submitted: Thursday, October 11, 2018
College of the Rockies Students Gain Valuable Skills for Local Labour Market

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photo - College of the Rockies Students Gain Valuable Skills for Local Labour Market

Photo: Fifteen Health Care Assistant students at College of the Rockies' Golden campus prepare to help fill the demand for HCAs in the region.

Another academic year has kicked off at College of the Rockies’ Golden campus, with programming aimed at providing students with the type of employable skills that are needed in the region.

Three academic programs are being offered at the Golden campus in 2018/2019, including Adventure Tourism Business Operations (ATBO), Health Care Assistant (HCA), and Adult Upgrading. A range of Continuing Education courses will also be offered throughout the year, ensuring a wide variety of educational experiences available to Golden residents.

“As a regional college, we are focused on responding to the needs of our community,” says Campus Manager, Karen Cathcart. “The programs being offered this year reflect the local labour market and the kind of employment opportunities we are seeing in the region.”

Given Golden’s reputation as a world-class mountain adventure town, it’s no surprise that the campus’ flagship Adventure Tourism Business Operations program continues to draw students from around the world. Over the past 18, years, the ATBO program has provided more than 300 students with the skills and experiences to pursue careers as adventure tourism professionals. The program has close ties with adventure tourism businesses in and around Golden. Representatives from industry are frequent guest speakers in the classroom and often support students in their practicum placements. Students, in turn, become knowledgeable and well-trained employment candidates.

“As the world’s largest heli-skiing company, and one of the largest adventure tourism businesses in British Columbia, our success is dependent on having a highly-qualified and professional staff,” says Dave Butler, Director of Sustainability for Banff-based CMH Heli-Skiing and Summer Adventures. “The ATBO program has become an important source of valued talent for our company."

Outside of the tourism industry, there is a growing need for qualified health-care workers to support Golden and areas’ local population. With 15 students in the Health Care Assistant program, the Golden campus is well-situated to help fill this need. WorkBC forecasts a need for over 18,650 Health Care Assistants over the next 10 years, almost 800 in the Kootenay region alone.

“We are thrilled to have a class of 15 Health Care Assistant students at the College of the Rockies’ Golden campus,” says Interior Health HCA Project Lead, Shalan Hundal. “Once they complete their program, these students will be eligible to join our teams at Interior Health with the option to either work one-on-one with clients through home support or in a team setting in long-term care homes, providing the care needed for aging residents in the region.”

All 15 Health Care Assistant students are local Golden residents.

The College’s Adult Upgrading program prepares students for employment or further education by helping them to complete their high school credential or to obtain prerequisites they need for further education.

“Golden is a smaller community, so job opportunities can be limited,” says campus manager, Karen Cathcart. “Our two major employers, Canadian Pacific Railway and Louisiana-Pacific, require employees to have a high school diploma. Many of our students need only one or two classes to complete that requirement so a short-term commitment to school can lead to great long-term benefits.”

Adult Upgrading can also provide a stepping stone to further education, and is a great opportunity for new immigrants to Canada.

“We currently have a group of seven women from Jamaica who completed their education in their country, and are now completing their Canadian high school diploma before continuing on to further studies,” Cathcart added. “For many, the Adult Upgrading program is an important first step toward employment.”

Education Advisor, Andrea Eitle, is available at the Golden campus, by appointment, for those interested in exploring educational options. She provides help with finding an education and career path as well as financial assistance options.

Learn more about College of the Rockies’ Golden campus.