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HomeNewsCampusShops build skills at Durham College Whitby campus

Shops build skills at Durham College Whitby campus

Durham College’s Whitby campus has a room filled with elevators. It also has a real escalator and a crane simulator.

These are just some of theshops where students get hands-on experience in the field they plan to eventually work in.

The campus offers a range of shops including, millwright, welding, power engineering, automotive, electrical, elevating, carpentry and electric vehicles.

Rebecca Milburn, the principal and executive dean of Whitby campus, says it has been a long and constantly changing process.

“They have kind of grown, as the campus has grown,” she says.

Milburn says they have moved around over time and, as technology has developed, so have the shops.

“There has been a metamorphosis of the different shops over the 30 years,” she says.

Milburn says students spend at least half of their time learning and using the shops.

“The question is how the community benefits,” she says.

Milburn says the shops address the needs in the community, by helping local employers hire employees with practice in the field.

She likes that the shops are open, meaning trades often work together.

“If you think of workplace environments, you’re not working with one type of trade or one type of discipline,” she says.

Leeza Francis a student in the Elevating Devices program, says shops are a crucial part of the curriculum.

“I didn’t really have a lot of mechanical background, so it really helped me catch up with people who had more understanding,” Francis says.

Enrolment at Whitby campus has grown about 30 to 40 per cent over the last three years, according to Milburn.

“We’re growing, and we’re running out of space but huge interest,” she says.

Milburn says there has been a lot more women interested in the trades.

“We are increasing the population by making it more diverse and more welcoming to everyone,” she says.

The shops operate through government grants, sponsors, and donations. There is a team of eight technologists that take care of the equipment and safety elements.

“They are great learning opportunities, they’re hands-on learning. Students spend about 50 per cent of their time actually picking up the tools that they’re going to use in industry,” she says. “So, our students are prepared to succeed.”