New ECE offerings at Okanagan College responding to workforce demands

By College Relations | November 8, 2023

Photo of Karen Block
Karen Block

Working as an Early Childhood Education (ECE) assistant for the past 20 years has provided Penticton’s Karen Block with a rewarding career helping children learn, grow and play. 

Block took the opportunity to enhance her career and learn additional skills through the new ECE Certificate program at Okanagan College. The program offers students flexibility to attend classes and upskill, while continuing to work in their field.

“Because my classes are offered in a hybrid format, it has been possible for me to continue working during the first semester of the program,” said Block whose program features online and in-person learning.  

Okanagan College is expanding opportunities for ECE training across the Okanagan Valley, offering a new hybrid delivery model along with additional intakes for the ECE diploma program, an online ECE infant toddler program for those already working in the field, and a diploma program designed for workers looking to upskill.  

“Providing people with flexible learning options is critical to responding to real employment needs within key sectors, including early childhood education,” said Okanagan College President Neil Fassina. “Okanagan College is working with partners across the region to make it more possible for people to take steps toward their professional goals, and at the same time to strengthen the workforce through education, training and professional development.” 

Coinciding with the B.C. Government’s announcement last month of increased wages for early childhood educators, the expanded ECE programs offer people considering this career path added incentive to enroll at OC. 

“Through the StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan, we’re making it easier for more people to become ECEs by creating more early childhood education student spaces and streamlining pathways for internationally trained ECEs,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. “Okanagan College’s new ECE program and expanded opportunities are encouraging more people to further their education while addressing the demand for trained ECEs in the region.”

“We believe that supporting early childhood education is an investment in the future we all share. That’s why, in addition to the $6 per hour top up, ECEs with their Infant Toddler certificate are now eligible for an additional $2.000 per year,” added Grace Lore, Minister of State for Child Care. “Early childhood educators change the lives of children and their families - these new investments help up lift ECEs and ensure their important contributions are better compensated.”

The new ECE programs at Okanagan College include:

  • A new hybrid ECE Certificate program is accepting applications for people who can start the program in January 2024 in Salmon Arm and in Jan. 2025 in Penticton. 
  • ECE diploma programs are available with new intakes in Vernon, Kelowna and Salmon Arm in 2024.
  • For those with previous ECE training who are looking for new skills, the ECE Infant Toddler Certificate program has a new intake this January. The infant toddler program is offered online before in-person practicums are held at local childcare centres.
  • An ECE work integrated learning program offers an opportunity for those currently working between 15 to 25 hours in a childcare facility to continue working while studying for an ECE Diploma at Okanagan College. Interested students can express interest in applying for a seat in the January 2024 intake here.  

Kelowna student Shitaye Essa Birare graduated from the ECE Infant Toddler Certificate program, and said she’s benefited from the experience of her OC instructors who have been working in the industry for a number of years.  

“I wanted to further my education, and this was a very relevant and challenging course to take,” said Birare. “Within a year I had acquired such a depth of knowledge from people who had been in the field for over 20 years.”  

Okanagan College ECE programs prepare students to work with young children in a variety of inclusive early childhood environments such as daycares, preschools, infant/toddler centres and other early childhood initiatives that focus upon healthy early development. 

Find out more information about all of Okanagan College’s ECE programs at

Tags: Early Childhood Education



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