B.C.: funding comes to Vanderhoof post-secondary eduction

The announced funding will go towards millwrighting in Vanderhoof, as well as other initiatives for the region.

From left: Councillor Ernie John from Saik’uz First Nation

From left: Councillor Ernie John from Saik’uz First Nation

B.C. government funding towards post-secondary and continuing education in Vanderhoof was announced by Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad at the College of New Caledonia’s Vanderhoof campus on Apr. 19.

In Vanderhoof, $68,000 will go towards a millwright apprenticeship level 1 program that will start this September, with delivery subject to sufficient student demand.

“[Through community consultation] it was determined that what’s required in this area is millwright level 1, not foundations, to deal with the number of apprentices that are here in Vanderhoof that would like to stay at home and complete their apprenticeship by doing coursework in town,” said CNC president Henry Reiser.

It’s exciting news for education in Vanderhoof, Mayor Gerry Thiessen said.

“We sensed that millwrighting is a course that could be used by both industry and young people wanting to fill those jobs,” Thiessen said. “Happy to see the college be an active part of education in Vanderhoof.”

Last November, CNC’s president announced that the college is restructuring in the face of a $2.8 million budget shortfall, and a proposed new Vanderhoof campus was moved to fourth place — previously first — on the college’s priority projects list due to missing learner demand.

“We still have some concerns on where the college’s mandate is for education in Vanderhoof,” Theissen said. “We will continue to work with the college and the minister for post-secondary education, and try to find a solution there.”

The funding is part of the $400,000 that was provided to the college’s four campuses in the region for short-term technically focused programs to support on-demand vocations.

For the region, the college also received $302,000 for its digital delivery initiative, which involves linking students and instructors throughout teleconference technology.

“This is not online learning,” Reiser said. “This is instructor-led instruction where students have the opportunity to interact with the faculty member and with each other in real-time.”

He said that the required equipment has already been in place for all four campus since March, with a successful pilot delivery of a physics course that took place between Prince George and Quesnel. Twenty-five courses are being considered for delivery through DDI.

“DDI is not to replace face-to-face,” Reiser said. “For the time being, it’s one-way communication and ultimately there will be two-way communication.

“We will get this off and running hopefully by next year.”

He added that students would still attend courses in a cohort, with a tutor on campus to support the learning.

CNC’s regional Targeted Initiative for Older Workers also received $251,000, allowing the program to extend to Dec. 31 this year, Rustad said.

“In the next decade or so, we got about one million job openings in British Columbia, and that’s not including LNG or other projects…just through normal growth and people retiring,” he said. “There will only be about 550 to 600,000 students graduating over that period of time, which means there’s a shortfall and we need to make sure that we do what we can to provide for jobs.”

The regional funding is part of the $4.1 million that the federal and provincial governments are providing for the TIOW program in 16 communities throughout B.C.