Students such as Regina Gray in NIC’s apprenticeship programs play an important role in filling demand for skilled tradespeople in the construction of new Campbell River and Comox Valley hospitals. Gray graduated from the Lather program this fall and is now working on the hospital site.

Many working on hospitals projects come from NIC

The North Island Hospitals Project (NIHP) is sparking demand for the skilled trades on Vancouver Island and providing North Island College (NIC) students with new trades and technology careers, according to a recent release from NIC.

Regina Gray, for example, is currently working at the NIHP site after graduating from the lather program earlier this fall.

With two hospitals under construction in Campbell River and the Comox Valley, the demand for local, skilled tradespeople is increasing.

North Island Hospitals Project Communications Officer Dan MacLennan says 594 people, including 410 tradespeople from Campbell River, Comox, Cumberland or Courtenay were employed on the project in October. This included 122 apprentices working in plumbing/mechanical, carpentry, electrical, roofing or wall and ceiling trades.

As the need for trained workers increases, NIC’s Dean of Trades and Technical Programs, Cheryl O’ Connell, points to Industry Training Authority (ITA) Apprenticeship Advisor, Doug Podetz as a key resource in ensuring NIC programs align with regional training requirements. Podetz works closely with the hospitals’ project and industry leaders to connect local, qualified individuals with jobs.

“Doug has been instrumental in supporting the advancement of NIC trades and technology programs,” O’ Connell says. “With his guidance, we were recently able to launch the only Interprovincial (Red Seal) Lather: Wall and Ceiling program on Vancouver Island.”

The program provides students with an introduction to the trade, which plays an important role in the production of ceilings and walls in commercial, high-rise and residential buildings. It is just one of many NIC foundation and apprenticeship programs available to North Island students, including welding, heavy mechanical, electrical, carpentry and plumbing trades training.

“NIC foundation programs are critical to providing base skills employers are looking for,” Podetz says.

NIHP predicts hospital construction will create an estimated 2,200 direct jobs and more than 1,400 indirect jobs. The project started in July 2014 and is expected to be completed by summer 2017. Peak employment is expected by early summer 2016.

“As the hospital project takes shape, there is a real need for skilled subcontractors,” Podetz says, explaining that he’s been working closely with NIHP Chief Project Officer Tom Sparrow to determine the projects’ employment needs and consulting with NIC to ensure trades training is available to fill gaps. “We are pulling the community together and connecting foundation graduates with industry employers, providing local, qualified people with jobs.“

For information on NIC’s trades and technical programs, or to speak with an educational advisor, visit