B.C.’s boating industry is massive and growing, but the qualified technicians needed to keep that industry afloat are retiring without being replaced.
Boating BC recently handed out five $2,000 scholarships in an effort to replenish the province’s dwindling number of marine mechanics and Ucluelet local Sebastien Eaves is thrilled to be embarking on a career path that needs his footsteps.
Eaves moved from Ucluelet to Nanaimo last month in preparation for his studies at Vancouver Island University where he will take Motorcylce and Marine Technician with the hopes of scoring an apprenticeship and eventually, his own mobile mechanic business.
“He came across as a really strong candidate for us,” Boating BC’s Executive Director Lisa Geddes told the Westerly News. “He had great volunteer experience. His interests were really well aligned with outdoor recreation and an inclination for mechanics, which is an area that we are in dire need of…He seemed to have a lot of passion and was a self-starter.”
Eaves, 23, moved to Ucluelet from Quebec three years ago and witnessed first-hand how important the boating industry is and how valuable marine mechanics can be.
“I like the ocean a lot,” he said. “It’s important, not only for jobs, but for leisure.”
He applied for Boating BC’s Glenn Spartz Scholarship and was thrilled to be accepted.
“Getting the scholarship helps quite a bit because school isn’t cheap so this will help me get through my studies and be able to focus,” he said. “Instead of getting a full-time job, maybe I’ll be able to get more of a part-time job and focus more on my studies and school activities and marine shows.”
Eaves hopes his VIU experience will lead to an apprenticeship and ultimately plans to become a mobile marine mechanic, travelling around Vancouver Island and helping boat owners enjoy B.C.’s oceans and lakes.
“People want to be happy about their boats being fixed and I like doing that, so it’s rewarding for me and it helps other people,” he said.
This is the second wave of Glenn Spartz Scholarship dished out by Boating BC and Geddes said finding interested future mechanics like Eaves is paramount.
“We’re starved for certified technicians in our industry…Without them, we don’t have an industry. Boats don’t run if they can’t be serviced properly,” she said.
“It’s very concerning and I think you’d find the same shortage in a lot of industry…Young people have so many things to choose from these days. In our case, I think that we do suffer a little bit from lack of awareness of the opportunities so we’re working to change that.”
She suggested the province’s boating industry has grown by roughly 30 per cent over the past five years and contributes about $1.3 million to B.C.’s GDP.
“The lifestyle, the economy, everything has a strong interface with the water,” she said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re RCMP or whale watching, you’re on the water in a boat and somebody has to make sure that the boats are available, well-serviced and maintained.”
She encourages anybody interested in a career in the marine industry to check out www.boatingbc.ca.
“There’s so many opportunities and it’s a great lifestyle,” she said. “It’s an awesome job.”