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Okanagan College is again seeing fall student enrolment grow.
The total number of students enrolled in programs at Okanagan College’s four major campuses has climbed by almost four per cent compared to last year. A total of 8,329 students were registered in programs and courses on the College’s stable enrolment date (Sept. 16, the last date students could register and change classes).
Last fall the College had 8,005 students enrolled.
“The indications are that we are experiencing another strong year,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We can likely expect that this will be the 12th consecutive year that we exceed government’s total enrolment targets. More importantly the strong demand for our programming indicates we are providing relevant and valuable education for our communities, and that’s what is most important to us.”
In 2015-16, Okanagan College achieved 109 per cent of those government targets.
Salmon Arm, Vernon and Kelowna each recorded headcount growth over last year:
- Salmon Arm grew by 23 per cent to 638 students from 525.
- Vernon grew 6.8 per cent to 1,070 students, from 1,001.
- Kelowna grew 3.5 per cent to 5,237 from 5,059.
While Penticton recorded a small decrease in headcount (913 from 966), the number of course registrations at that campus actually grew by four per cent, to 2,777 from 2,672. Overall course registrations at the College were up 5.7 per cent.
The number of international students attending Okanagan College also grew significantly: 683 international students were registered this fall compared to 534 registered at the same time last year.
Fall enrolment data doesn’t tell the whole story for Okanagan College. Various courses start at different times of the year, and a full enrolment report isn’t developed until after the fiscal year-end in March.
Gord Turner, founder of Gord Turner Renovations Ltd., has donated $15,000 to support the outfitting of a new study space in the Carpentry shop. The space will come online for students this fall.
“I think it’s important to give back,” says Turner. “I’ve been fortunate in this business. With the way the industry is going, I feel it’s incumbent on us to support future tradespeople.”
“Our company has supported a number of apprentices during their training over the years. The industry is constantly changing. If you want to be successful in the long run you have to keep learning and changing with it.”
Turner says the decision to help create the new study space was an easy one given his long connection to the College. He has been a member of the Carpentry program’s Program Advisory Committee (PAC) for nearly a decade and took a refresher course in carpentry at the Kelowna campus in the early 2000s.
Gord Turner Renovations also boasts two other Okanagan College alumni on staff: Turner’s children. His son Cody earned his Red Seal as carpenter in 2005, while his younger son Kyle graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Technology program in 2008.
“I was brought up in this trade by my dad,” explains Cody Turner. “I was the first apprentice from our company to train at the College, so it’s nice to see our company able to support the place where our family and a number of our employees have trained.”
“It’s wonderful to see the College keep growing,” notes Kyle Turner. “Having access to trades training in Kelowna is a great for our business.”
The company has grown from an army of one – Turner – in 1991, to a team of 13 employees today. Along the way, Turner and company have racked up Gold and Silver Tommie Awards, including “Renovator of the Year” in 2010. Gord Turner Renovations has also been voted “Best Residential Renovator of the Central Okanagan” by the readers of Okanagan Life Magazine multiple years, including the latest issue in December 2015.
Sept. 28 marks the company’s 25th anniversary, and its founder is quick to point out that while building technologies, materials and styles may have changed over the decades, one aspect of his business has remained constant.
“We help people renovate their houses, design through build, and we do it really well. That’s it. And that takes good people.”
Which, as Turner points out, harkens back to the need for a deep pool of well-trained trades people in the region.
“The new trades complex will help the College continue to stay in step with the needs of industry,” says Steve Moores, Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “From top to bottom, from shops to classrooms, it is a totally modern, cutting-edge learning environment.”
“We appreciate the way local employers like Gord Turner Renovations have embraced the project and have chosen to invest in the future of trades training at the College.”
The College recently completed a 10,000 sq. metre renovation and expansion of trades facilities at the Kelowna campus. The new three-storey LEED Platinum-targeted building opened to students in April and is slated for an official public grand opening this month. The new and renovated facilities will allow the College to train 2,700 students per year.
The Okanagan College Foundation launched its $7-million Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign in October 2014 to raise an additional $5 million for capital construction and $2 million in program and student support to top up the province’s $28-million investment.
To learn more about Okanagan College’s new trades facilities and opportunities to support students, please visitwww.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.
With the first U.S. presidential debate now in the rear-view mirror, many Canadians are left wondering what effect the outcome of the upcoming election will have on Canada.
Dr. Rosalind Warner, Chair of Okanagan College’s Political Science department, will provide context and clarity to what all of this political discourse and the upcoming election results will mean to Canada and the world at large.
Warner will present “Off the Rails: The U.S. Presidential Election” on Oct. 24 in the lecture theatre of Okanagan College’s Penticton campus. Warner will be one of eight presenters who will lead the College’s Penticton Speaker Series, which takes place on Monday evenings between 7-8:30 p.m. from now until Dec. 5.
Warner, who holds a doctoral degree in International Relations and Canadian Politics from York University, won’t be forecasting the outcome of the election, but will provide insight into how a republican or democratic president-elect will impact Canada.
“The main question people ask me with regard to this presidential election is why it has taken this tone,” explains Warner. “People are wondering, is this politics as usual for the United States or is something different going on? And the short answer is that some of these issues are new and others are not.”
Warner explains that regardless of the outcome, there are a number of important issues on the table that will have a serious impact on Canada, chief among them is the U.S. policy on trade.
“One of the things that is interesting about this race is that both candidates share similar views on trade and that should be a worry for Canadians,” said Warner. “Every day Canada and the United States trade more than $2 billion in goods and services – that is extremely significant. With both candidates committing to curtailing open trade, Canada will be impacted.”
Warner will also take a closer look at the role of social media in the lead-up to the election. She will shed light on topics such as the role of the media as a watchdog and the importance of fact-checking.
“The world is concerned about the outcome of November’s election, and Canada is one of the countries that will be most impacted,” said Warner. “My goal is to provide understanding and context from a Canadian perspective and we will take a look at how we got here.”
Warner’s lecture, and all others in the Penticton Speaker Series, is hosted by Okanagan College with admission by donation. All donations support the Dire Straits Fund, an emergency bursary for Okanagan College students.
To view the complete line up of speakers in the series, visit: ocspeakersseries.weebly.com.
When Ryan Lazauskas graduated from Okanagan College in June with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, the 27-year-old knew he had written his last college exam. But in the back of his mind, another daunting exam was weighing heavy on him—the National Knowledge Exam, the first step in obtaining the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation.
“I did a lot of research before I chose to study human resources at Okanagan College,” said Lazauskas, who is now a Human Resources Assistant at Tolko Industries. “The program has an excellent reputation and the professors have the industry experience that really makes a difference in the real world. I knew I wanted to pursue the CHRP designation and was confident an education at OC would put me in the best position to be successful after graduation.”
However, Lazauskas isn’t going to have to challenge his knowledge with the national exam.
Baldev Gill, Chief Operating Officer of the Human Resources Management Association (HRMA) of BC and the Yukon, was in Kelowna Thursday to recognize Okanagan College as an HRMA accredited institution, which means graduates of the Human Resources Management program are exempt from writing the exam. The announcement was welcome news for recent graduates like Lazauskas.
“This new accreditation is just one more reason to take business at Okanagan College,” he said. “It’s a lot to expect students to finish their degree, start a new career and at the same time prepare for a really intense exam. I am so glad the program has been accredited by HRMA; it allows new graduates to really focus on building their careers and adjusting to life after post-secondary.”
Dr. Heather Banham, Dean of the Okanagan College School of Business, says the accreditation marks a significant achievement for the institution’s human resources specialty.
“This agreement represents a tangible outcome ensuring that BBA graduates are well equipped to take on professional roles in organizations of all types and sizes,” says Banham. “Employers can be confident that these students have developed competency in the nine required practice areas and are on their way to attaining certification as a Certified Human Resources Professional.”
Lazauskas couldn’t agree more.
“This accreditation is a huge step forward for the program,” he said. “The professors at the College bring so much industry knowledge into the classroom and that creates a learning environment that prepares students for the challenges they will face when they enter the workforce.”
The agreement will be retroactive for three years, meaning students who graduated with a BBA and human resources management specialty dating back to May of 2013 will receive an exemption from writing the exam, providing they achieved a minimum 70 per cent grade point average.
Okanagan College is teaming up with Lighthouse Labs - one of Canada’s fastest-growing computer coding trainers - to offer an introductory course that will start students on the path to a career in coding.
The Coding Fundamentals course begins Oct. 11 in Kelowna and will provide students with some of the most in-demand skills in the high-tech marketplace. Over the course of 60 hours, students will build their coding literacy and learn the fundamentals of web development. Talented developers will mentor students as they work with templates and create apps using coding languages including Ruby, Sinatra and Swift.
“Coding is garnering a lot of interest from educators and employers,” observes Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Okanagan College’s Continuing Studies and Corporate Training department. “Lighthouse Labs is a recognized leader in this field. We are excited to collaborate with them on this leading edge course.”
Lighthouse Labs co-founders Jeremy Shaki and Khurram Virani are among those who see the need for more focus on coding and more educational opportunities. During last fall’s federal election, they called on all political leaders to put coding at the forefront of their policy platforms.
“We're disappointed,” they wrote in an open letter. “The tech community is disappointed. And many Canadians, from coast to coast, are disappointed with the lack of discussion on the importance of technology, technology education, and code literacy to drive prosperity and innovation across Canada. We know that technology is the beating heart to drive progress in Canada and that it is the biggest driver of growth in the industrialized world.”
Some levels of government are paying attention. The B.C. government, for instance, announced earlier this year that coding will be a component of its public school curriculum. This came just as an industry analysis revealed that Canada could face a shortage of 182,000 information and communications technology workers by 2019. The new Coding Fundamentals course has been made possible as a result of a Provincial investment in coding programs at several B.C. institutiions.
One Okanagan company with an interest in finding qualified employees and which has experience with Lighthouse Labs is FreshGrade, which has developed apps for use by teachers, parents and students that are in use in 70 countries by more than a million people.
"FreshGrade has always been invested in helping grow the Okanagan tech community, and more developer talent will only support that growth,” says Steve Wandler, Co-Founder of FreshGrade. “It's wonderful to see organizations like Lighthouse Labs come into the community and partner with the Okanagan College to train locals to fill the demand for tech talent."
"We've worked closely with Lighthouse Labs in the past, and are looking forward to seeing the positive impact on Kelowna's industry with the addition of more coding training opportunities."
The course is being offered Tuesday and Thursday evenings, beginning Oct. 11. The cost is $1,800. For more information about the course, visit Okanagan.bc.ca/coding
Derickson, who replaces Doug Manning in the role, has been on the College Board since 2014, has been a Westbank First Nation Council member since 2012, and has a consulting practice working with First Nations communities developing community plans, community engagement strategies, strategic plans, and providing legal research services.
He holds a degree in law from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Arts degree from UBC Okanagan. He is also completing a Masters of Business Administration in Aboriginal and Business Leadership at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business.
“Chris is a respected community member who brings leadership and planning insight to the Board of Governors,” says Okanagan College Board Chair Connie Denesiuk. “He will be a key asset in the governance of the College as we implement our new strategic plan.”
“I appreciate the vital role that higher education plays in strengthening our communities and transforming individual lives,” says Derickson. “I look forward to continuing to help grow and develop Okanagan College as a key engine in our region’s social and economic progress.”
Manning finished his term with the Board of Governors at the end of July after serving the maximum allowable six years.
“Doug will be missed – he contributed significantly to the College’s growth and development over his tenure on the Board, bringing a sincere concern for student wellbeing and success to our deliberations and decisions,” says Denesiuk.