Durham College and OPG Nurture Skilled Trades

On January 25, Durham College (DC) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) celebrated the recent completion of the college’s first-ever Boiler Lab in Whitby. Funded by both DC and OPG, the new Boiler Lab will help ensure graduates gain real-world experience and knowledge from hands-on learning in an actual, operating boiler-room setting.

On hand to show support was the Member of Parliament for Whitby, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Northumberland – Peterborough South MP, David Picinni, who also serves as the parliamentary assistant to Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, College and Universities. The president of the Treasury Board, Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, Durham Regional Chair John Henry and the mayor of Whitby, Don Mitchell were also in attendance.

“Skilled trade professionals are in high demand and are needed to successfully complete OPG’s Darlington Refurbishment Project. Our partnership with Durham College is essential in providing current and future staffing needs. The Boiler Lab is the type of training facility that is a must for meeting demand,” said Jeff Lyash, OPG President and CEO. “Leading-edge institutions such as Durham College are training the next generation of skilled trades that will help ensure that Canada’s largest clean energy project continues to track on time and budget.”

Since 2005, OPG has invested $15 million in educational partnership programs with DC and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology to increase the pool of skilled and qualified graduates as the nuclear industry enters into an era of a skilled trades supply gap.

“The partnership between the college and OPG is a great example of industry and post-secondary coming together to deliver training and demonstrates what is possible as a result of these types of agreements,” said Don Lovisa, President, Durham College. “OPG identified a need and through hands-on learning in the Boiler Lab, DC is meeting it. For our students this means they are graduating with the experience required to easily transition into their careers, helping ensure the future viability of the skilled trades.”

Training in the Boiler Lab is part of the  Power Engineering Technician – Fourth Class program offered at DC and will play an integral role in competency development.

Rachael Lave, a student studying in the Power Engineering Technician – Fourth Class program also spoke at the event about the importance of the new lab to the overall program, describing a recent issue that occurred with coupling that attached one of the turbines and the generator. By witnessing the issue first-hand, students walked away with greater insight into the types of issues they would face in their field and what the industry would expect of them.

The Boiler Lab joins a long list of training simulation environments offered at the college’s Whitby campus including energy, residential construction and carpentry and horticulture labs.