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Health-care careers are calling, and Vernon residents considering change in the new year can dial in their options in early 2019.
An extra intake of Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant program is scheduled for February, giving students in the North Okanagan direct access to training for one of the most in-demand positions in B.C.
“Now is a great time to become a health care assistant. The need for health care assistants within the Interior Health region is growing. There are many opportunities for individuals who have this training and one can choose to work in a team environment in long-term care or one-on-one with clients in home support. It is a great career choice for those who enjoy working closely with others, and those who like making a positive impact on the lives of others,” says Shalan Hundal, Health Care Assistant Recruitment and Marketing Project Lead, Interior Health.
The HCA program is also being offered as a dual credit opportunity with School District 22.
According to WorkBC, health care assistants have been identified as a priority occupation for the B.C. Ministry of Health. Average employment growth rates in this field are forecasted at 13 per cent to 2022, with no sign of slowing down. This demand is anticipated to increase even more after the Government of B.C. announced funding to increase staffing levels in residential care homes for seniors, which aims to fund more than 900 health care assistants by 2021.
“We’re hearing from our industry partners that employers in the Okanagan are desperate for health care assistants. Students will be making a living wage right out of school, in a profession that offers a variety of shifts, making it easy to find work that best fits their lives,” says Lisa Kraft, Associate Dean of Science Technology and Health for Okanagan College. “Most importantly, health care assistants find their work extremely rewarding. Graduates often tell us how much they appreciate the opportunity to have a significant impact on the quality of life for people in care.”
The College received $66,000 in one-time funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to support delivery of the program in Vernon, which will also enhance access for residents of nearby Armstrong, Enderby, Salmon Arm and Sicamous.
An information night for people to learn more about the Health Care Assistant program and field will be held on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. in Room D343 of the Vernon campus, 7000 College Way. The six-month intensive program runs for 26 weeks starting on Feb. 4, 2019, and will feature four months of classroom instruction and two months of hands-on practicum for students to learn within the health-care environment.
Applications can be submitted online. For information, call 250-545-7291, ext. 2309 or visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/hca.
A class of 13 Grade 10-12 students from School District 23 were the first to contribute to the project, honing their framing and other carpentry skills recently in the space, which is under construction at Kelowna Christian Academy School located on Hollywood Road South.
That class is the first of its kind in the province – an all-female gateway to trades opportunity that is modelled on the Industry Training Authority (ITA) Youth Explore Trades Sampler program for high school students. The 19-week program (a collaboration between the ITA, school district and the college) provides youth an experience in various trades to help students identify their passion before continuing on to an apprenticeship.
Mackenzie Pachal is one of the students working on the project.
“We get to learn a lot about using different tools and about the different trades. It’s much different than school. It’s cool to be working on something that someone else will be appreciating,” she notes.
“This project is a great opportunity for these students to get some hands-on training and apply their skills out in the community,” says Steve Moores, the College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “I expect they will take a great deal of pride in knowing their efforts are benefiting their fellow students. It’s a real win-win for everybody involved and our students and instructors jumped at the chance to be a part of it.”
“We’re very grateful to the Industry Training Authority and the school district for their support in helping us make this first all-female gateway program a reality – along with Tolko, Home Depot and several others who have provided support and materials. The school district approached us to get the ball rolling in an innovative way to engage an all-female cohort and we’re thrilled we were able to work collaboratively to make it happen.”
“Supporting women in trades is so important in building a sustainable and strong workforce in B.C.” says Shelley Gray, interim CEO, Industry Training Authority. “We’re so proud of the girls of School District 23 for trying their hands at skilled trades and contributing to their community and Okanagan College. Creating safe and welcoming environments for girls and women interested in exploring trades is a great way to get them started.”
Others from the College’s Trades and Apprenticeship department will also play a role in finishing off the project. Electrical, plumbing and carpentry/joinery students and instructors will rotate through in the coming days.
When completed (the College is aiming to have the project wrapped by the end of December) the space will boast locker rooms for both the men’s and women’s teams and a coach’s/meeting room.
The OC Coyotes will play their home openers at Immaculata Regional High School on Nov. 16. The games will mark their first official regular season play as part of the Pacific West (PACWEST) Conference.
“The OC Coyote men’s and women’s basketball programs are built on and dependent on local support and this is no exception with the entire project being constructed by OC Trades students,” explains Dino Gini, President of the Okanagan College Basketball Society.
“Supporting our community is our top priority because the community has supported us since our program’s inception. Working with the College Trades departments and their students is just another example of our program working with our future community leaders. We are looking forward to inviting the community in to join us to officially open the facility to the current and future players and coaches when the time comes.”
An Okanagan College research initiative involving two different Shuswap area companies is among more than 94 projects nation-wide that are being supported with $45 million from the federal government’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
The funding was outlined today at a press conference in Ontario, and work on the research projects in the Shuswap is already underway.
The Shuswap projects are focused on technology in agriculture and improving economic sustainability for existing businesses. $200,000 of federal grant money (over two years) is going to support:
The funding for the projects flows through the NSERC-administered College and Community Innovation Program.
“On campuses across the country, colleges are building exciting research opportunities and at the same time helping companies enhance their products and processes, bringing promising ideas to the marketplace,” noted federal Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, as she announced the projects publicly in Saint John. “With research areas ranging from advanced manufacturing to artificial intelligence, the projects being funded today will have real-life benefits for all Canadians.”
Okanagan College personnel involved in the Shuswap research include researcher Dr. Peter Janele and David Williams, who teaches in the Electronic Engineering Technology program.
“Local food security and a minimized carbon footprint is essential to resilient sustainability.” says Ernest Moniz, owner of HighCroft Farm in Sorrento. “Securing federal support and being able to work with an Okanagan College researcher and students to find ways to develop and operate geo-thermal year-round greenhouses is an exciting and valuable step in the right direction. We look forward to being part of creating low cost and small carbon footprint year-round food supplies for local communities in all areas of Canada.”
“Part of the challenge in operating a hydroponic farm is to manage the systems involved in the most efficient manner possible. The project we’re engaging in with Okanagan College researchers and students will help us develop an automated control system that ensures optimal air and water management for an indoor farm that is going to grow tomatoes, strawberries and lettuce commercially. Being able to tap into the College expertise with support through this grant is a real benefit for us.”
“This is research that demonstrates how Okanagan College can bring expertise and knowledge – and federal support – to bear on real world challenges and opportunities that will benefit business and impact the economic health of our region,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “I’m pleased this work is focused in the Shuswap and am looking forward to seeing what the results are. Important to us is the fact there are OC students involved, bolstering their education with research experience.”
The projects are projected to be complete within two years.
Good things come in small packages — made even better when powered by passive energy.
Dylan Roche and his family are excited to move into their newly built home, designed by Okanagan College students as they completed their Sustainable Construction Management Technology (SCMT) diploma.
The Roche family home on Penticton’s Upper Bench might look typical from the outside, but its design is the result of applied learning at its best — students incorporating international best practices in sustainable construction to save energy in the scaled-down house.
The project came about as Roche and his family began to establish roots in Penticton, seeking a more sustainable way of living.
“When we were looking around in the Okanagan, a lot of vineyards seemed to have small amount of land for the vineyard, but large houses. We were looking for the opposite,” explains Roche. “We liked the idea of building something affordable but comfortable, that was easy to heat and live in.”
Roche had a connection with Brian Rippy, a professor in the SCMT department with 15 years of experience in sustainable design and construction management. Rippy provided consultation services while Roche and his family designed their winery building, incorporating LEED principles into the design so that the upstart vintner could optimize operations from the get-go.
“It can take a lot of energy to maintain consistent temperatures in a winery,” Roche explains, adding one facility he worked at in Oliver had utility bills of $3,000 a month. “We got a primer with the winery such that when we started working on the house, we wanted to integrate a lot of those ideas.”
Rippy recommended that the family home become a SCMT Diploma Capstone project for students, who are required to complete a real-world project and demonstrate skills and knowledge they gain in the program. Each team-based project has the potential to contribute to the economic, environmental and social well-being of the community. Students have two terms to deliver: the first to design a project that meets their client’s requirements, with the second term involving construction project management.
For program alumnus Aaron Spohr, the capstone project was daunting.
“My classmates and I realized quite quickly we had actual deadlines and this affected real people. The stakes were a little higher, and it was a real eye opener,” Spohr recalls.
With the Roche project, Spohr and his classmates facilitated design and managed procurement of materials, trades and quotes, as the Roches had their own contractor to build the project.
Applying what they had learned about sustainable construction, the students incorporated many Passive House principles into their work. A building standard certification developed in Germany, Passive House design strives for energy efficient buildings that are comfortable and affordable, using existing sun, internal heat sources and heat recovery ventilation. This can result in energy consumption reductions up to 90 per cent compared to typical building stock.
“We take a building that you would normally have, but wrap it in a sleeping bag so it is super insulated and take additional measures to ensure the building is airtight,” explains Rippy, adding that a high-performance air barrier and thick layer of rigid insulation is continuous around the entire building and two small heat recovery ventilation systems are used to exchange air with minimal energy loss.
Another significant factor in Passive House design is situating the building in the optimum location to take advantage of energy from the sun.
“The site itself was pretty wide open and flat, so from an orientation perspective it was ideal. It allowed us to put a lot of the principles we had learned about into practice,” Spohr says. “We were able to take advantage of the southern orientation to accept solar energy in the winter and reject it in the summer. Our modelling worked.”
The student team working on the Roche project was initially asked to design a tiny house or other movable living structures on the site, given the restrictions around agricultural land. As the design process unfolded, however, the Roche family came back to the students with a twist: their family was growing, expecting another child.
“It was really interesting and cool. It was a real-world application, and gave me and my classmates a taste of what to expect,” Spohr explains. “Building is not an assignment, where you are given the parameters and they never change during the design process. We had a client whose needs were changing. That means some rework has to be done, adjustments had to be made, and you have to deal with it. It was the perfect illustration of what we could expect in industry.”
The home is approximately 800 square feet, with living and kitchen space in the middle taking advantage of natural light from south-facing windows. The interior spaces are open to maximize daylighting and connection to the outdoors. Other features include insulated concrete forms for the foundation, low-emission finishes, high-performance windows, low-flow water fixtures and Energy Star appliances. The building is also considered net-zero ready, in that future additions of solar panels have been planned, which would make the building reach net zero energy.
Spohr had the opportunity to walk through and admire the house during the final stage of construction.
“It looks great. It looks exactly as we had designed it. A lot of the things we had hoped would make it in are here,” he says. “It’s a small space but it feels like it is big and efficient.”
Information about the SCMT program is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/scmt.