Partnership helping to fill staffing gaps in hospitality and tourism industry
Like many industries, the hospitality and tourism sector has been hard hit by staff shortages over the past few years with a declining youth population and an aging workforce combining to create significant challenges.
But a new program designed in partnership by Okanagan College (OC) and the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association (TOTA) will help to reduce those shortages.
The first of four new cohorts of students enrolled in the Hospitality Professional Program this fall, a flexible program open to students anywhere in the Thompson-Okanagan-Shuswap regions. The 17-week online course is followed by nine weeks of work experience in the students’ local community.
“Okanagan College is leading the way by collaborating with industry partners to respond in areas where we have real needs in the workforce,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This new program at Okanagan College supports our Future Ready Plan and shows how working together with the local industry can both support people who are looking for training to advance in their careers, and help businesses find much needed skilled workers.”
Students in Kelowna, Penticton and Salmon Arm began their courses in the Hospitality Professional Program in October. The online offering is accessible to students throughout the region while industry partnerships will take the training to a hands-on model for the work experience portion. The program will be offered three more times over the next two years.
“Since the classroom work can be done online and the work experience is completed in the students’ home community, this program is accessible to many people throughout our region. You don’t have to live in Kelowna to participate,” said Okanagan College President Neil Fassina. “Flexible learning options like the Hospitality Professional Program are critical as we respond to local and regional workforce needs.”
The Hospitality Professional Program bundles several existing Okanagan College courses together. Areas of study include computer skills, management and leadership training, and human resources, as well as industry certificates such as Serving It Right or FoodSafe, and two Okanagan College Certificates – Hospitality Service Training (HOST) and the Basic Accounting Certificate (BAC).
“We are very excited to be working closely with Okanagan College to help design this program and provide training opportunities to current and future tourism industry employees,” said Ellen Walker-Matthews, TOTA CEO. “This important partnership is an invaluable collaboration as the hospitality industry works to rebuild in a post-COVID world; attracting, retaining and retraining staff and building a robust workforce.”
According to a 2019 B.C. Tourism Human Resources Strategy document, the hospitality industry is facing unprecedented challenges in finding and keeping skilled workers. The report identified challenges within the industry including the reliance on workers between the ages of 15 and 24, the numbers of which are declining at a significant rate, combined with record numbers of people retiring.
“This program is designed to start people on a journey of a career, not just a job. When most people think about hospitality, we think front desk and housekeeping. But the need is and will continue to be much broader over the next few years,” said Danelle Greebe, OC’s Director of Continuing Studies. “The Hospitality Professional Program aims to meet the needs of the industry right now. We’re very excited to be able to partner with the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association to provide these courses.”
Register for the Hospitality Professional Program here.
Tags: Tourism and Hospitality, Continuing Studies, Kelowna, Penticton, Salmon Arm
April 4, 2023
Q: What's your name? A: Ruth Gabriela Melo Flores Q: What's your hometown? A: Quito – Ecuador – South America Q: How did you end up at Okanagan College? A: Well, I studied for a bachelor's degree in Law in Ecuador. Then, I worked for a while and got my Master's degree in Government and Culture of Organizations at the University of Pamplona. When I returned to my country, professional opportunities arose for me. I mean, a Master's degree improved my career. Spain helped me develop ...Read more...
June 7, 2022
Grads of Okanagan College’s Animation Diploma program are finding their skills have never been in higher demand. First- and second-year students showed samples of their artwork and demo reels to industry partners at OC’s annual Animation Industry Night on May 17. “Lots of the work was very professional,” says James Wood, Chair of Okanagan College’s Animation Department. “Our program is short, but intense. The instructors make sure the students have a realistic understanding of what they need do to succeed in a competitive and demanding wo...Read more...
May 30, 2022
Business students from Okanagan College are once again able to travel to Jyväskylä, Finland to experience an international summer school at the JAMK University of Applied Sciences. Finland’s education system is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. OC Business Professor Blair Baldwin, who has taught Services Design at JAMK for several summers, says working in Finland has helped him innovate and create new teaching methodologies. “JAMK employs experiential learning across its curriculum,” he says. “They stress critical thinkin...Read more...
May 27, 2022
Okanagan College students will once again be competing for the Canadian title after qualifying for the Enactus National Exposition with a first-place finish in their league during the semi-final round. Enactus teams at post-secondary institutions across Canada competed virtually earlier this month, and Okanagan College scooped up top position in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge, and runner-up in the Scotiabank Climate Action Challenge for the Unusually Good Food Co. project. It also included national runner-up in Shaw and RBC accelerators...Read more...