COURTENAY, B.C. – Students interested in the trades will be able to use new equipment thanks to some extra funding.

On Friday, Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard announced that School District 71 has received $26,262 this year to buy new equipment and upgrade older gear at Valley schools.

The funding is part of a $3.5 million investment by the Industry Training Authority’s (ITA) Youth Trades Capital Equipment Program to boost the trades at schools across British Columbia.

Over the last three years, School District 71 has received $178,782, including the funding for this year.

“This is really good news because our shops, some of the equipment is like 50 years old and kids coming in to work on 50 year old equipment that’s pretty well worn out doesn’t inspire them much, so now we’re seeing kids that are getting excited,” said Randy Grey, careers program coordinator for the Comox Valley school district.

He said some of the new equipment includes three table saws at each of the high schools in the Comox Valley.

“They’re special saws that if a kid accidentally touches the blade when it’s running, it won’t take his or her finger off, it stops automatically,” he said.

“We’ve got a CNC plasma cutter and we also have some new CNC routers, which are sort of a newer technology. So kids learn on the older technology and then advance on to the higher technology.”

58 school districts will receive funding this year through the program.