The Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) ushered in a new era with a little help from Premier Christy Clark on Friday (Oct.23).

Clark attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for the post-secondary institution’s newly-built on campus trades training building.

It cost $1.8 million to construct, $1.5 million of which came from a lion’s share contribution from the provincial government. NVIT chipped in the remaining $300,000.

To a large crowd gathered at the ceremony, Clark said NVIT is important in ensuring First Nations get a chance to obtain the training needed to participate in the province’s economy, and ensure they benefit from the trades and resources industries.

“It is long past due time that First Nations people have the chance to be fully engaged in our economy,” Clark said, adding that B.C. has proven itself successful at getting wealth out of the ground.

“But we have not done a good job of ensuring that First Nations, on whose traditional territory and from whose traditional territory those resources are extracted, get a share and a piece of that wealth,” Clark said.

The 670-square metre facility was funded through B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint, which includes capital funding for new trades training infrastructure and equipment.

“We need more trades people in the province,” Clark told reporters, “I hope that we’ll see this [institution] double, triple in size over time.”

Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart said it felt like yesterday that she was at NVIT for the groundbreaking ceremony, which took place almost a year ago.

“It’s come a long way and it shows our commitment to the city of Merritt,” Tegart said.

The province is investing more than $3 billion in skills training over the next decade to ensure British Columbians are first in line for jobs coming to the province, Clark said.

“This institution is going to be vital to making that happen,” she said.

Until now, NVIT’s trades programs were housed off-campus in Merritt, which now move on-campus to this facility located behind the school. This should alleviate transportation issues for students and streamline their participation in campus activities.

Dignitaries prepare to cut the ribbon to open NVIT's new trades training facility.

Dignitaries prepare to cut the ribbon to open NVIT’s new trades training facility.

While the building is officially open, classes are not expected to start operating out of the building until November.

Courses for plumbing and piping, residential construction and electrician training along with the mobile trades trailer for its Bridging to Trades course make up the trades programs currently offered by NVIT.

To date, through the mobile trades training program, NVIT has graduated 117 students from across B.C. Since 2014, another 31 learners graduated from NVIT’s plumbing, construction and electrical programs.

“Today we are celebrating the opening of our on-campus trades facility along with rural access for past and prospective learners seeking opportunities to acquire the critical training designed to provide B.C. with skilled trades workers,” NVIT president Ken Tourand said in a press release.

When classes begin, the new trades training facility will accommodate 40 students per year.