Pilot Mound Collegiate has secured a grant of $90,300 to upgrade the school’s industrial arts woodworking program.

The Manitoba government is providing more than $1.4 million for technology upgrades through the Skills Strategy Equipment Enhancement Fund (SSEEF) for industrial arts and technical vocational programs in schools across the province.

Isaac Friesen teaches industrial arts to Grade 9-12 students and about 65 are enrolled in the program at Pilot Mound Collegiate. “What I did was apply for this grant last year and I found out in February our school was successful in landing a grant.”

“Basically the grant will allow us to build a 28 x 24 foot pole shed shops building with a concrete pad and also purchase a new hydraulic sawmill. The pole shed will be for storage and processing lumber. Then students will learn how to use the sawmill and they can use their own lumber and that will bring our costs down. We’ll also be able to do a lot of live edge furniture.”

Technology education programs require schools to have facilities and equipment that resemble real-world work environments that meet workplace safety and health, and industry standards.

“Getting this grant was awesome for our school. Anytime you can upgrade a program it’s beneficial to the students. There’s a major shortage of carpenters throughout Manitoba and ever since I started teaching industrial arts I’ve always had lots of students that go into the carpentry business after which to me speaks to the success of our program and what those students went through at Pilot Mound Collegiate.”

SSEEF grants help school divisions purchase equipment for technical vocational and industrial arts educational facilities in schools to ensure alignment with apprenticeship and industry standards. This year, more than $1.4 million in grants are being provided to 35 schools across Manitoba.

The SSEEF funding initiative works to ensure technical vocational and industrial arts programming is relevant to current and future labour market needs and meets workplace safety and health standards.

Isaac Friesen says the grant will cover a majority of the cost but he’ll have to dip into his industrial arts budget for another $8,000 to $10,000 to pay for the entire project.