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New technology training program at OC set to expand
Okanagan College Media Release

A new program at Okanagan College is helping high school students understand how current technology will shape their careers.

Funded by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, the Gateway to Technology program provided 13 School District 67 students in Grades 10 – 12 with an enhanced understanding of how various technologies function.

The pilot program, which included students from Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School, wrapped up at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus on Thursday, June 20.Wilcox and Moore July 2019

“Code seemed like magic,” says Tealya Wilcox, who graduated from Penticton Secondary School last month. “But our instructors explained how things work during lectures and we have the chance to apply what we learn in hands-on sessions. While this may not be key to the heavy mechanic training I hope to pursue, having the skills to understand technology and its many applications is important.”

The diversity of the program is what piqued Erik Moore’s interest. “I think an understanding of how technology works, from hardware to programming, will be useful to me and my classmates as we’re looking for jobs,” says Moore, who also recently graduated from Penticton Secondary School. “In the future, I may pursue specific technical training to supplement my chosen area of study in economics.”

“We have had a wide range of students in the program and the common theme throughout is their enthusiasm for technology,” says Trevor Knowlton, Career and Apprentice Coordinator for SD67. “It has been great to partner with Okanagan College to provide this Tech Gateway program for our students. Showing them the many different career opportunities that are available to them with these skills has been a huge success.”

With the initial success, Okanagan College has been working with other school districts to set up similar training. The next cohort is scheduled to begin in Vernon this September, with plans for School Districts 23, 53 and 83 in the works for February 2020.

Gateway to Technology programming will be one of the electives offered within each school district and students will receive credits towards graduation.

“The opportunity to teach the students in the Gateway to Technology program has been truly rewarding,” says Troy Berg, Professor of Network and Telecommunications Engineering Technology at Okanagan College. “The students have been exposed to a fascinating variety of technologies and concepts, and it has been exhilarating to see them find excitement and passion in areas they can use to create a vast range of dynamic and fulfilling career opportunities for themselves in the years to come.”

The program covers two main components – information technology essentials and an introduction to coding and web development. It is led by Berg and Sarah Foss, computer science instructor, both of Okanagan College, and combines lectures with hands-on lab learning opportunities.

“We know technology plays a significant role in our lives and that will only continue to grow in the future,” explains Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training at Okanagan College. “With the completion of the pilot program, we’re exploring opportunities to continue opening doors for more students to become aware of the possibilities for careers and education in the world of technology. If the project builds or heightens a passion for this type of work, it will have been successful.”