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Unique food, wine tourism training to grow youth employment opportunities in Osoyoos and area
Okanagan College Media Release

Destination Osoyoos and Okanagan College are partnering to deliver Passport to Employment – an innovative program that aims to grow the food, wine and tourism industry by providing free, hands-on training to high school students in Osoyoos and Oliver.

“We recognized that if we could offer a hands-on training program to our local youth, we would all win,” says Brianne Hearle, Director of Marketing with Destination Osoyoos. “Our youth would be retained in our community, they would become gainfully employed during and after school years, and our hospitality sector businesses would have a better selection of certified, employment-ready workers resulting in a more stable human resource situation.”

Destination Osoyoos chose to partner with Okanagan College because as Gail Scott, Managing Director for Destination Osoyoos, says “the College had the expertise and knowledge to put the program together. This pilot has truly been a collaboration of talent, expertise and passion; and, it is being carefully followed by other organizations and communities in B.C. as a possible best practice for implementation.”

Passport to Employment is unique because the curriculum contains hands-on training and certification options in areas that the wine, food and tourism industry have long recognized are skill gaps. Topics include essential employment skills, professionalism in the workplace, as well as front desk, housekeeping and cashier training. Students will also earn valuable industry recognized certificates, including FoodSafe, WorldHost, Serving it Right, WorkSafe BC Occupational First Aid, WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) and BC Wine Server.

“We worked closely with Destination Osoyoos to carefully design a program that produces graduates that can convey to visitors the exceptional experiences we have to offer in Osoyoos and area,” says Sharon Reems, Program Coordinator, Okanagan College. “We also have a distinct advantage in that our students will have the opportunity to connect with and learn from the industry that they hope to pursue a career in. Passport to Employment really showcases how our hospitality, wine and food businesses stand out as premium customer service providers.”

Passport to Employment is open to all current high school students in Oliver and Osoyoos. The program begins January 23 and runs until the middle of April. Classes will move between Okanagan College’s Oliver Centre and Osoyoos, and will be held on weekends and evenings. Students will receive four high school credits for successfully completing the program and have the opportunity to participate in a job fair sponsored by Destination Osoyoos. Graduates of the program will also be eligible to apply for a $1,000 scholarship to further their education.

“For those students that successfully complete this program,” says Scott, “they will undoubtedly be ahead of the crowd when it comes to securing jobs this summer and getting started into the career of their choice.”

Passport to Employment is free; current high school students in Oliver and Osoyoos can apply for a spot by calling Sharon Reems at 250-492-4305, ext. 3401 or emailing
sreems@okanagan.bc.ca.