Industrial Marine Training and Applied Research Centre (IMTARC): A student’s perspective

Source: BC Shipping
Author: Tonya Gillard, Recent Graduate, Shipbuilding Repair Entry-Level Training
Published: February 28, 2014

By Tonya Gillard, Recent Graduate, Shipbuilding Repair Entry-Level Training...

Between October 2 and December 20 2013, I became one of 13 students in B.C.’s first Shipbuilding Repair Entry-Level Training (SRELT) pilot program. I had moved to Victoria a year earlier after a decade in construction marketing in Northern B.C. and was struggling to re-orient myself in a more competitive region. The opportunity fell in my lap and I decided to run with it — or set sail, if you prefer a bad pun.

Photo above: Instructor Peter Thomas with students from the SRELT program at IMTARC (photo courtesy Tonya Gillard).

The need for SRELT was identified by the Shipbuilding and Repair Human Resources Committee in 2009 and became even more of an imperative with the announcement of Seaspan Shipyards winning an agreement to build federal vessels under the National Shipbuilding and Procurement Strategy (NSPS) in 2011. Olaf Nielsen, Trades Training Development Co-ordinator at Victoria’s Camosun College, led a winning bid by a consortium of colleges including BCIT, Vancouver Island University and North Island College in developing, and subsequently running, the pilot serial of the SRELT program. Together, they aligned with industry to create a course which would provide a basis for new employees or transitioning Journeypersons entering shipbuilding or ship repair industries.

Ian Baxter, a Work Center & Apprentice Manager at the Department of National Defence (DND) Fleet Maintenance Facility (FMF) Cape Breton Shop at CFB Esquimalt, was one of the subject matter experts involved in the project from infancy. “At that time I could see just how important this type of program could be,” said Baxter. “DND is a leader in the community, and it was a natural progression for the department to be invested in seeing the SRELT pilot succeed.”

Our classes were held at the Industrial Marine Training and Applied Research Centre (IMTARC), adjacent to the Esquimalt Graving Dock (EGD) with site tours and practical work projects hosted at both EGD and FMF. Five women and eight men from their late teens to mid-40s had gone through an application and interview process at Camosun to get into the program. Half the class had previous shipyard or trades foundation education or experience and the rest of us were novices.

I had heard about SRELT from a classmate at another course at Camosun. The government ship contracts and the potential for work had been in the news but I had never considered the marine industry as a potential career. I was excited to take on a personal challenge, receive free training, obtain valuable trade certifications and help to shape the future course content for others.

To read the full article please see the March issue of BC Shipping News