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A three-day conference for British Columbia’s tourism educators next week, hosted by Okanagan College, is going to be focused on one of the industry’s hottest topics: the future of work in the industry.
“Tourism and hospitality businesses are – at their core – about people,” says William Gillett, the Dean of Okanagan College’s School of Business. “We all know that the single largest issue for tourism operators is human resources. The questions for the tourism educators of this province and country are ‘What can we do about it?’ and ‘What are we doing about it?’”
Toward that end, the conference (May 2-4) has drawn some experts in the educational sector to Kelowna, including John Walsh, the Vice-Provost of Toronto’s University of Guelph-Humber (a position he’s held since 2005). Walsh has developed a reputation for innovation in the post-secondary environment, and has worked on a variety of strategies focused on the food, wine and tourism industries.
Another keynote speaker at the conference is Tom Baum, a Professor in the Strathclyde Business School at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. He heads the Department of Human Resource Management there and is widely acknowledged to be a leading expert in the area of human resources management focusing on the tourism and hospitality management sector.
Between 40 and 50 people are expected to attend. Sessions will cover everything from how skilled workers affect restaurants to the implications of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity on the tourism workplace and what students are taught. Presenters come from Okanagan College, Thompson Rivers University, Vancouver Island University, and Royal Roads University.
For more information about the conference, visit tec.beac-tec2018.ca
For Okanagan College students and apprentices Lukas Pfob, Connor McLaren and Bradley Vanlerberg, their efforts at the provincial Skills Canada competition proved golden.
The trio won gold medals at the competition that was held in Abbotsford on April 18, part of the OC contingent of 14 students who brought home a total of eight medals from the event. The competition draws post-secondary and secondary school students and apprentices from throughout B.C. to test their skills against a series of challenges in 47 different disciplines.
For McLaren, it was his training as an Automotive Service Technician that led him to dominate in the Automotive Service category. Vernon’s Vanlerberg, in the second term of an Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (Maintenance) program, captured top spot in the Aerospace Technology competition, only to be followed by his classmate (also from Vernon), Levi Nicholas, who won the silver medal in the same competition.
Pfob won his gold medal in the Carpentry competition. It’s his second gold medal and his fourth medal overall competing in Skills Canada BC competitions. He won a gold medal last year and competed in the national competition.
“Okanagan College and the carpentry instructors have been fantastic,” says Pfob. “They’ve supported me and gone beyond showing me just the basics of carpentry.”
The attention to detail that’s been drilled into him apparently paid off. Pfob says the competition between he and the silver medal winner as they built small playhouses in 5.5 hours of competition was close. “Apparently, it was the clean cuts and joints, and the little details on my project that made the difference. Mine was more sellable in the final analysis.”
For 18-year-old Vanlerberg, he thinks it was an exam – on Canadian aviation regulations – that earned him the gold medal in the Aerospace Technology category. That exam came after he and the other contestants had to do an inspection on an engine, remove a fuel pump, and do all the accompanying paperwork.
McLaren was surprised to find out he had captured gold. He thought he’d stumbled on a couple of the six stations he had to complete during the automotive service competition. He thinks it was being able to do some basic things well that made the difference and he credits instructors for their support and the assistance they provided in anticipation of the competition. “They were great.”
“The accomplishments of these students is noteworthy,” says Okanagan College Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores. “They work with their instructors over long hours to prepare for these competitions. It’s a commitment on behalf of the instructors, but it all comes down to the students’ skill and abilities.”
“For Lukas, Connor and Bradley, it means they will be headed to the national competition in Edmonton in June. We’ll be cheering them on.”
“I’m pretty nervous about the nationals because there’s lots I have to do,” says Vanlerberg. He estimates he’ll be putting in dozens of hours practicing and reviewing material with instructor Hal Hobenshield between now and early June.
Dianne Holm was an eager observer of as much as she could take in during the Abbotsford competition. She’s the Regional Co-ordinator for Skills Canada and an employee in Okanagan College’s Trades department. She helps organize and run one of the largest events held annually at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus – the regional Skills Canada BC Trades and Technology Regional Competitions and Discovery Day.
This past year, nearly 770 students (more than 110 of them competitors) from the K-12 system between Revelstoke and Osoyoos took part in the day-long event in March. “It’s great bringing the youth to our campus. By hosting the competitions we provide them a platform to showcase their skills, build up their confidence, and test their abilities, all while striving for gold to move on to Provincials. The Discovery Day component gives students a chance to broaden their perspectives on skilled trades and technology and to experience some hands-on activities.”
Holm was busy in Abbotsford tracking the competitors from Okanagan College (nine different trades competitions). They brought home eight medals: the three gold, the silver in Aerospace Technology, a bronze in Culinary Arts (Siobhan Detkavich), a silver in Heavy Equipment Service (Kian Banner), a bronze in IT Network Systems (Frank van Zandwijk) and a bronze in Refrigeration (Adam Sohnchen).
Okanagan College Media Release
From indigenization to small businesses, millennials and pinot noir and drones to marijuana, the Okanagan is RIPE with innovative applied research projects and Okanagan College invites the community to attend its free second annual showcase event to hear about the cutting-edge research projects that are happening in the region.
RIPE (Research, Innovation and Partnerships Expo) is happening on May 8 from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the College’s Kelowna campus. The event is being supported by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and is an opportunity for community members, industry, educators, researchers and students to network and learn how applied research is growing new partnerships and enriching students’ educational experience in the Okanagan.
“Applied research by Okanagan College employees is making a big impact regionally and globally,” explains Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Director of Learning and Applied Research at the College. “The world is ever-changing and applied research can help us anticipate, react and even lead that change.”
OC instructor and Chair of the Welding Trades department Sean Jarvis and Lukas Skulmoski, Interim Associate Dean of Science, Technology and Health and an Electrical instructor are currently working on a research project with a team of two students to develop a custom sorting machine for a recycle depot in Vernon.
“When the company approached the College’s applied research team with this problem, we knew we could help – that’s what we do, we fix things,” says Jarvis. “This is a perfect example of how applied research can create solutions and fix problems and how it can benefit student learning.”
The event features five workshops led by industry-leading professionals: Applied Research and Indigenization, Why Applied Research Matters to Small Businesses, Creating Creative Cultures and Curiosity and Innovation, Research Wine and Marijuana and lastly, Research and Drones.
RIPE 2018 has two keynote speakers, Bert van den Berg Director, Colleges, Commercialization and Portfolio Policy with NSERC and Dr. Patrick Finn, School of Creative and performing Arts/Computational Media Design, University of Calgary and Chair of Research and Innovation, Edmonton Digital Arts College.
Finn will present The Dirty Little Secret about Research and van den Berg will present The Key Ingredient of Canada’s Success in Innovation.
In addition to workshops and keynote speakers, attendees will be treated to a morning mixer, a panel discussion and can hear applied research pitch questions and connect and expand their own applied research opportunities. Lunch and refreshments are included.
To attend this free event, please register at okanagan.bc.ca/RIPEregister. For more information on the expo including schedule details and keynote speaker biographies, please visit okanagan.bc.ca/RIPE.
A trio of community builders – all champions of different causes – are being recognized this year by Okanagan College with the institution’s highest commendation.
Mollie QuilQuil Sneena Bono, an advocate for Aboriginal peoples, Rick Thorpe, a dedicated public servant, and Patrick Waunch, a recognized construction leader, are to be named Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College in June.
“Each of these remarkable individuals has contributed significantly to our region, province and country,” notes Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “They have done it in diverse ways and richly deserve the honor our College is bestowing on them.”
Bono, Okanagan/Similkameen, is a School District #22 Trustee, a recipient of the Community Leadership Award (2017) in Vernon, and an active mentor for the Social Planning Council. She has served several terms as a Council Member for Okanagan Indian Band and has also served as a member of Okanagan College's Vernon Campus Regional Advisory Council. Since her retirement, Mollie has been working with the Social Planning Council and other allies in Vernon to advance Reconciliation and Healing.
Waunch has been the chair of the British Columbia Construction Association, Chair of the Southern Interior Construction Association, Chair of the Trade Contractors Council for the Canadian Construction Association, is a recipient of the Canadian Construction Association Community Leader Award, and has a long association with Okanagan College (serving as Chair of the Program Advisory Committee, helping fundraise for the new Trades Complex in Kelowna, and being an active donor to the College and other community organizations). His dedication to apprenticeship for trades led to the Southern Interior Construction Association establishing the Patrick Waunch Scholarship Award that provides $3,500 annually to a mechanical trades apprentice at Okanagan College.
Waunch is the President and CEO of Rambow Mechanical Ltd. He holds Red Seal tickets in Plumbing and Steam Fitting, as well as tickets in First Class Gas Fitting, hydro-pulse boilers and installation for ground source heating. He holds Gold Seal certification in Project Management and Superintendent.
Thorpe was a Member of the Legislative Assembly from 1996 to 2009, representing the Okanagan-Penticton and Okanagan Westside ridings and serving in Cabinet for eight years and as a member of Treasury Board for nine years (five as Deputy Chair). Before his election, Thorpe held several executive positions in the brewing industry in Canada and internationally, and he was involved in repositioning the B.C. grape and wine industry and was a partner in a successful B.C. winery.
After retiring from the B.C. Legislature, Thorpe served on a number of Boards of Directors, including the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, the Canadian Snowbirds Association, the Summerland Charity Shops Society (Penny Lane), Agur Lake Camp Society, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of British Columbia and Yukon. He was on the Board of Management for the Canada Revenue Agency for six years, four as Chair.
He is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant. He has been awarded the Fellow of Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada and the Fellow of the Society of Management Accountants of Canada.
“Yasmin and I continue to watch the growth of Okanagan College, and over the past 22 years have witnessed first-hand what access to higher learning close to home means for our students here in the Okanagan,” says Rick. Yasmin was named an Honorary Fellow in 2012 for her role in promoting children’s literacy and literature and for her service to the Okanagan.
“I’m very proud to be associated with Okanagan College, an institution which is focused on playing a very important role for our students within the Okanagan and Similkameen,” says Rick.
The Rick and Yasmin Thorpe and Friends Scholarship, established in 2006, has awarded $112,250 to 53 students entering Okanagan College.
“As an employer, I know first-hand how important the trades training is that Okanagan College provides,” says Waunch. “I have witnessed the investments of time, energy and resources that have led to OC becoming B.C.’s second-largest trades training institution and know the impact that has had on the construction community of our region. I’ll wear the title of Honorary Fellow proudly.”
“I’m honored that the College has chosen to acknowledge my life’s work to bridge cultures. Limlimt,” says Bono. “It has been easy for me to support and provide input into the work Okanagan Colleges does with Indigenous people and others,” she adds. "I have witnessed positive changes and appreciate that the College community is looking for new and creative programs that meet the needs of students and support the further success of Indigenous students.”
“There is a history of revolution in my family and this honour is another part of a lifelong journey that will only serve to strengthen my commitment to making our world in the Okanagan and beyond a better place.”
Since 2006, Okanagan College has been presenting Honorary Fellow Awards to deserving individuals (40, including Bono, Thorpe and Waunch) as part of its annual Convocation Ceremonies. The awards recognize distinguished achievement or service and the recipients represent a broad spectrum of regional, provincial, national and international contributions. The awards acknowledge a diverse array of people, from those who have advanced literacy among youth to individuals whose work has helped create awareness and appreciation of Aboriginal culture. A full list can be found at Okanagan.bc.ca/honourees.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a career in healthcare might be studying to become a doctor or a nurse, but there are plenty of under-the-radar occupations that most students probably haven’t heard of yet, like a Medical Device Reprocessing Technician.
The College is inviting those interested in learning more about this little known but in-demand healthcare career to attend a free information session on Tuesday, April 10 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Kelowna campus.
Mike Gantner, a graduate of Okanagan College’s Medical Device Reprocessing Technician certificate, has witnessed the demand for technicians first-hand.
“Everyone that I graduated with was hired right away,” says Gantner, who decided to return to school to advance his career in healthcare after starting out in hospital laundry services.
“My open-minded approach to working at different hospitals and casual hours after graduation paid off quickly – I’m now in a full-time position with great hours.”
Healthcare facilities throughout the province rely on the comprehensive knowledge and attention to detail of Medical Device Reprocessing Technicians. They are the people who directly contribute to a hygienic environment for patients. Lives depend on the work they do to make sure that the medical instruments used in hospitals are clean, safe and sterile.
Demand for people trained in this area across the Interior Health Authority region is high. In fact, 95 per cent of graduates from Okanagan College’s Medical Device Reprocessing certificate program are in the labour force, according to recent provincial government surveys.
The next intake for the College’s Medical Device Reprocessing Technician certificate program is coming up in May. To learn more about the info session, or to register, call 250-862-5480.
More information about the program is available at www.okanagan.bc.ca/mdrt.