BCIT president Jeff Zabudsky shares his vision for a new Trades and Technology Complex

BCIT recently raised $33 million from private sector contributions

As of September, the unemployment rate in B.C. has hit 5.4 percent—up 1.1 percent from the same time last year. On the other hand, the 2022 Labour Market Outlook expects 83,000 new skilled trades job openings over the next 10 years, mainly due to factors like retirement and projections of large-scale construction and housing projects.  

To help address labour shortages, BCIT plans to break ground for a new Trades and Technology Complex on its Burnaby campus soon. Not only will this offer an innovative learning environment, it will also add capacity for 700 more full-time students per year and hopefully help fill some gaps in trades.

Also in September, the educational institution celebrated raising $33 million towards the new facility. Forty-five leaders and individuals ranging from industries like engineering and mining to forestry and construction expressed their support through BCIT’s Inspire campaign, which aims to raise a total of $125 million in private sector contributions for long-term campus redevelopments. On top of government funding for the Complex, gifts stretched from $10,000 to as high as $7.5 million (from Concert Properties), with notable companies like Bosa Properties, Wesgroup Properties, Wheaton Precious Metals and Townline Homes on the list of donors. 

New BCIT president Jeff Zabudsky, who stepped into his role in July, is eager to see how this new Complex will impact the province. “It’s going to have a lot of really advanced technological space,” he says. “We recognize that in today’s world of training, a lot can be done with a simulated environment. Sometimes you can get more students through more quickly (and safely) in a simulated environment, so there will be simulation centres and advanced technologies like makerspaces that will have special CNC machines and 3D printers. We’re also looking at things like net-zero buildings.” 

The Complex is expected to be a series of buildings on BCIT’s northeast corner, “kind of a high-profile area as you drive along Canada Way,” says the president. It will feature key spaces like the Concert Properties Centre for Trades and Technology and the Robert Bosa Carpentry Pavillion, as well as a Marine and Mass Timber Workshop. “That will complement our new program in mass timber,” adds Zabudsky. “Timber buildings are more resilient to earthquakes, so B.C. is looking to market that in different parts of the world that are more at-risk for earthquakes.” BCIT hopes to be a showpiece for timber technology with the new program and relevant Workshop to come. In fact, its new student housing facility is also a tall mass timber structure.

“Even though I’m a new president, it’s so apparent to me that BCIT is critically important to the success of these companies [that donated],” says Zabudsky. “They need more graduates to help them grow their business, and they have generously helped us to be able to do that through their contribution, so I’m really excited about that.”