KPU graduates build new careers in high-demand industry

Tue, Jan 16, 2024

They don’t make them like they used to. In our age of fast fashion, bargain-bin electronics, and debates about consumer’s right to repair, it might seem like the demand for appliance repairs would be on the wane.

However, according to KPU Chair and instructor David Fengstad, nothing could be further from the truth.

“Since 2019 we’ve seen 100% of our students receive job offers at graduation,” says Fengstad. “There are even cases of alumni hiring new grads to work in their own businesses!”

The Appliance Service Technician Certificate program offered at KPU Tech has been growing in popularity as demand rises for technicians in both the commercial and consumer sectors.

KPU offers the only full time recognized Red Seal program for appliance repair technicians. Graduates of the program need 7200 hours of work experience to be eligible to write the Red Seal Certificate of Completion.

“There’s a lot of reasons for the high demand and it’s making it a very appealing line of work to go into,” Fengstad explains. “There’s a demographic squeeze and many people in the field retire and in the current economy repair is much more appealing than replacement.”

“There’s a lot of flexibility because they learn the skills that can take them all sorts of places: HVAC, gas fitting, vending machines, furnace repairs, even second-year electrical.”

Thanks to the quality of the program and its graduates KPU has established strong relationships with local manufacturers.

“They don’t want to instruct, they want to mentor,” Fengstad says. “Our graduates are exactly what they’re looking for.”

Kyle Evens completed the program in June 2023 after working in the automotive industry for about a decade.

Appliance Service Technician student working in the lab at KPU Tech
Photo: A student working at KPU Tech.

“I was basically looking for a second career,” says Evens. “My uncle actually took the program back in 1999 and started his own business, Greg’s Appliances and Refrigeration in Aldergrove.”

Evens highlighted the different instructors who provided unique in-field perspectives and the hybrid model as factors that really made a difference as a student in the program. There was no shortage of job offers once he completed the program either.

“I actually received three offers right out of the gate,” Evens says. “I chose to go with Priority Appliance Services. They’ve been really supportive of continuing my training.” The Richmond-based company is directly involved with KPU, providing sub-instructors for the program.

Another graduate, Lee Curtis, finished the program in 2022 and hasn’t looked back.

“I used to work in appliance sales so I saw the demand and the need for workers,” says Curtis. “The program was super informative, just leaps and bounds ahead of the other programs out there. All the hands-on experience at school, with all the right tools and devices, makes all the difference.”

Curtis went into business for himself after completing the program, starting Ace Appliances in Vernon B.C., and he is looking to make his success a family affair.

“Everything’s gone super well and I’m looking to expand,” Curtis says. “My son is actually applying for the September 2024 intake.”

It’s easy to see why so many students are choosing a career in appliance repair, and KPU has become the place to go to find the cream of the crop in the industry.