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BCIT gets $2.5M from forestry sector to fund trades programs

December 14, 2022  By  Jennifer Ellson

(L-R) Barbara James, BCIT alumna; Linda Coady, president & CEO, BC Council of Forest Industries; Ray Ferris, president & CEO, West Fraser; Paul McCullough, interim president, BCIT; Leigh Clasby, VP, Paper Excellence; Don Kayne, CEO, Canfor; Wayne Hand, Dean, BCIT School of Construction & the Environment. Photo courtesy BCIT.

British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) has announced a $2.5 million contribution from forestry sector leaders to its INSPIRE Campaign which will benefit students in more than 20 trades and technology programs that are critical for the future growth of B.C.’s globally renowned forestry sector.

A collection of forestry organizations including Canfor, West Fraser, Tolko, Hampton Lumber, Interfor, Mosaic Forest Management, Paper Excellence, and Binational Softwood Lumber Council have come together to invest in trades programs through the new BCIT Trades and Technology Complex (TTC), made possible with funding from the Province of BC and industry partners. The TTC will include spaces that inspire integrated learning and facilitate inter-trade collaboration. It will also add training capacity for hundreds of new full and part-time student spots annually, helping to meet the growing demand for skilled trades professionals in B.C. over the next 10 years.

“British Columbia is facing a demand for an estimated 85,000 new trades jobs over the next decade,” said Paul McCullough, interim president, BCIT. “The generous donation from our forestry partners to the new Trades and Technology Complex will help ensure future BCIT students have access to the best tools, instruction, and equipment needed to be job-ready.”

“With ongoing innovation and growing demand for climate-friendly building solutions, Canfor is excited to support BCIT’s growth as an interconnection between the forestry and construction sectors. With some of the most advanced labs and simulation facilities in the country, the TTC will be a training space that showcases high-value wood product applications, including our leadership in mass timber. Forestry has a proud history in BC, and we see exciting opportunities for the future as the world turns to lower carbon products to build greener homes, businesses, and communities,” said Canfor’s CEO Don Kayne.


B.C.’s forestry industry employs thousands of skilled workers—from engineers and millwrights to forest technicians and data scientists. The transformed learning environment and renewal of programs will bring together students from both trades and technologies as well as bachelor’s and master’s degree programs into the same building promoting practical knowledge transfer.

Since the 1980s, B.C.’s forestry partners have helped build and shape BCIT as a leader in transformational applied learning enabling students’ academic pursuits. This donation will further support BCIT students, help future-proof the B.C. economy, and champion innovation in the forestry sector for a sustainable future.

“We are proud to partner with BCIT and others in the forest sector to help make the new Trades and Technology Complex a reality. As an organization committed to a diverse workforce of the future, we look forward to providing support through scholarships and bursaries to remove barriers for those traditionally underrepresented in trades,” Ray Ferris, president and CEO ofWest Fraser Mills said.

The Trades and Technology Complex will be a major economic stimulus. The various projects will employ a wide range of construction trades and specialists in the design, project management, and technology sectors. The project’s capital value of $220 million is estimated to generate between 950 and 1,175 direct jobs with an equivalent number of indirect jobs.

Learn more: BCIT INSPIRE Campaign.

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