Originally published in The Georgia Straight
The remarkable work of graduates from the drafting programs at Vancouver Community College (VCC) is all around us. The offices we work in, the roads we drive on, the bridges we cross over, and the buildings we live in—construction of these structures is based upon intricate design plans laid out by a drafter.
To meet the increasing demand for drafting technicians, VCC is offering six computer-assisted design (CAD) and building information modelling (BIM) programs:
“We have been producing drafting technicians since 1949 and our graduates have helped build our airports, sports arenas and stadiums, roads, bridges across the Lower Mainland, and beyond,” says Bruce McGarvie, department leader at VCC.
Despite rising unemployment rates due to COVID-19, VCC has not noticed any slowdown in demand for its drafting graduates by local architectural firms.
“Certificate and diploma program statistics, averaged over the last five years, show that 84 percent of graduates find full-time work within four months of graduation,” McGarvie says. “Many of our students have jobs lined up before they even finish their programs.”
Students can complete the majority of coursework for these programs online through virtual classrooms. This computer-based format is convenient for those hoping to gain an education while following social-distancing guidelines during the pandemic. With lectures, discussions, and peer collaborations taking place online, students are not required to commute to campus and can conveniently construct their own learning schedule.
Students in need of assistance with the course material can contact their instructors via Zoom and share their screens with peers when working on group projects. Additionally, all students have access to the specialized program software and can access course resources on Moodle at any time.
People with an interest in mathematics, technical drawing, 3D modelling, commercial and residential construction, and sustainability should consider pursuing an education in drafting.
“Drafting technicians prepare engineering designs, 3D virtual models, construction and fabrication drawings, and related technical information,” says McGarvie. “Drafters work in teams or with engineers and architects for consulting architectural and engineering firms, construction companies, resource and manufacturing companies, and in many levels of government.”
According to WorkBC, graduates from the CAD and BIM drafting programs earn a median wage of $27 per hour. The six programs available at VCC vary from 14 weeks to 10 months. Ideal for detail-oriented, self-motivated students, this is a small time investment considering that most graduates gain meaningful employment shortly after finishing their program.