KELOWNA – The Okanagan Correctional Centre is looking to fill 300 new positions. However, they won’t be for the faint of heart. About two-thirds of the hires will be correctional officers; a job that needs you to be in good physical shape. That’s why hopefuls were put to the test on Saturday.

“This measures their physical abilities to be able to take the training that we offer if they are successful,” says Steve DiCastri, Warden of Okanagan Correctional Centre.

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Twenty people took part in the Corrections Officers’ Physical Abilities Test (COPAT) at the Capital News Centre in Kelowna on Saturday.

Each exercise in the test represents the type of strength needed for the job at the Okanagan’s first prison located north of Oliver.

“Restraining inmates at times, handcuffing techniques, responding to emergencies if they have to so we need to them to be physically fit for that,” says DiCastri.

In order to pass the test, participants have to make it through everything from stair climbs, agility tests, bar jumps, cardio, and strength pushing and pulling exercises.

“The push-pull exercise is for opening or closing moving doors; we have large doors in the facility so you have to open them and sometimes they’re jarred closed,” says DiCastri. “You have to be fit.”

The goal is to complete the COPAT in two minutes and 50 seconds. Many participants say it’s the final cardio exercise that is the hardest.

“It’s a lot more exhausting than I thought it was going to be,” says applicant Derek Theissen.

However, with a 90 per cent pass rate and an opportunity to take the COPAT a second time, it may be the competition for the jobs that’s the most intimidating for the hopefuls.

“There’s a lot of interest from all over the province,” says DiCastri. “We’ve seen about 1,200 people in our readiness/orientation sessions so we are hoping to get about 120 people, brand new.”

According to the Ministry of Justice, new correctional officer hires start with an hourly training wage of $19.99 and can work their way up to a maximum hourly salary of $30.18 after five-and-a-half years of full-time work.

READ MORE: The Okanagan Correctional Centre is hiring

Out of the 300 jobs that will open up at the facility, 240 of them will be corrections officer positions. Job postings will go up in November and DiCastri says the application process will run until March.

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