Spotlight: On Industry Collaboration

BC's colleges are collaborating with industry to provide students with the advanced skills and education for employment.

It is predicted that within the next 10 years 75 per cent of new job openings in BC will require post-secondary education to fuel our growing knowledge-based economy. In January baby boomers began to turn 65, beginning a decline in the number of eligible and skilled workers.  The threat of a skills shortage is real and will only be averted by graduating more British Columbians with job ready skills. BC's colleges are very cognizant of this fact and are working with industry to provide students with the advanced skills and education they will require for the jobs of tomorrow, today.

Across British Columbia our 11 public colleges are committed to collaborating as one unified public system and responding as one to the BC labour market. Each of our colleges is working on ways to create partnerships with industry that will result in programs that reflect the regional economic needs of the province.

CNC Chieftain Auto Parts .jpgThe College of New Caledonia (CNC) has developed an Auto Parts Lab at the Prince George campus in collaboration with Chieftain Auto Parts. Housed at the John A. Brink Trades & Technology Centre, the local auto parts company donated $25,000 to CNC to create a computer lab in the automotive area. The lab is now filled with 16 computers and monitors, a printer, video camera and a large LCD TV. It also has a scanner, which allows instructors to display and magnify auto parts on the TV so students can clearly see what the instructor is talking about.

“It sure beats everyone huddling around a part trying to get a glimpse of it while the teacher is talking,” said auto instructor Bill Deutch, who was instrumental in the sponsorship. “It really improves the quality of education for the students, while also making things easier for the instructor.”

This unique partnership has allowed students to be trained on the latest technology, which in the end will be a benefit to them and their future employers. At $5,000 a year the Chieftain Auto Parts Lab is a great value to both Chieftain and CNC. An unexpected bonus is the fact that students are also learning the Chieftain Auto Parts inventory and software so well that they are becoming qualified parts people, who the owner said he may hire in the future.

BC is behind in the renewable energy sector. One way to catch up is to graduate more students with the necessary skills and education. Between now and Camosun Building a new generation CAPTION - Students departing for Race Rocks tidal turbine site.jpg2017, Canadian labour force requirements are expected to more than double in wind, solar photovoltaic and bioenergy industries and triple in solar thermal industries. By 2017, approximately 60,000 workers will be needed in this sector Canada-wide.

Camosun College in Victoria is ideally positioned to take up the challenge. Vancouver Island has favourable geographical characteristics for tidal turbines, on- and off-shore wind farms as well as wave energy collectors. Consequently Camosun College created a unique Electronics & Computer Engineering Technology - Renewable Energy program whose graduates are well-prepared to analyze the best renewable energy solutions.

Before they graduate, students apply the technology they've learned at locations such as the Department of National Defence, the Canadian Coast Guard, and Axis Technologies, where they work with solar panels, remote environmental monitoring systems on ocean buoys, and other environmental technologies. This hands-on learning provides practical training and solutions and leads to jobs after graduation, a win-win for everyone.

East Kootenay residents planning to enter the Business Administration program at College of the Rockies for the first time in September can now apply for two new entrance awards.  These awards were created as a result of the recent Career and Job Fair at College of the Rockies.

COTR CGA booth.jpgThe awards, worth $1,300 apiece, are part of a contribution which 35 business, industry and organization exhibitors invested in when they took part in at the Career and Job Fair on March 10 at College of the Rockies.

Keith Powell, publisher of Kootenay Business Magazine and one of the main organizers of the Career and Job Fair, commented, “Working in conjunction with the event’s participants, we were pleased to be able to come up with a way to help contribute to these new entrance awards. We believe this partnership will benefit residents and students from all parts of the East Kootenay.”

One Career and Job Fair award is for an East Kootenay secondary student, the other for a resident who is returning to learning after leaving secondary school and is over 20 years of age. Deadline for application is July 15, 2011. To review all the requirements go or call: 250-489-8264.

Langara College in Vancouver has teamed up with award winning advertising agency Rethink for the third year to offer one aspiring art director orLangara rethink-logo.jpgdesigner the chance to win a two-year, fully paid $18,000 scholarship to Langara's Communications and Ideation Design Program. To apply, students are asked to fill a classic black sketchbook in any way they want. Or take it apart and rebuild it into something totally different. They simply need to convey their ideas, passion and creativity using only the black book. Sketchbooks are judged and the winner is awarded the scholarship and an internship at Rethink.

In the design community, Rethink is a sought after ad firm for internships. Offering the internship in addition to the Langara Communication and Ideation Design program (CID) is a career changing opportunity. It allows the winner access to some of Vancouver’s top creative professionals and adds an important accolade to their resume. The scholarship was developed to provide exceptional student designers the opportunity to study in a cutting-edge program and then immediately apply their learning in the real world with one of the top Canadian firms. Bridging industry and academia, the Rethink Scholarship builds on the mandate of the CID program: to provide students progressive and radical education taught by top industry professionals. Past contenders have shown exceptional work and every year hopeful applicants raise the bar. Now in the third year of the scholarship, there is much anticipation to view this year’s entries and see whom the judging panel will select.

NLC Power Engineering.jpgResidents of northeastern British Columbia will be the major beneficiaries of a training partnership for Power Engineering and Gas Processing between Northeast Aboriginal Skills Employment Project (NEASEP), Encana Corporation, Spectra Energy and Northern Lights College (NLC).

NEASEP bridges the skills gap between local Aboriginal peoples and large-scale industrial sectors – including oil and gas, forestry, mining and trades – by providing essential skills training, education, Apprenticeship opportunities, retention and employment support to participants. The project is co-funded by the Government of Canada, and is supported by the North East Native Advancing Society (NENAS), BC Métis Association, and other industry partners active in the northeast.

Graduates of the program in Fort Nelson will have the opportunity to find work in the expanding field of natural gas exploration in the Fort Nelson area. Additionally, both Spectra Energy and Encana are committed to employing successful Aboriginal peoples graduates in the Fort Nelson region and beyond.

“Encana is extremely pleased to partner with NEASEP, NLC and Spectra to bring this high-skills training opportunity to Fort Nelson,” said Jeff Beale, Aboriginal Relations Advisor with Encana. “We believe this will help local Aboriginal peoples in acquiring highly skilled, high paying occupations closer to home communities in a sustainable and growing natural gas resource play. Power engineering occupations are integral to the success of companies like ours, and we’re striving for increased Aboriginal peoples and local contributions.”

For NLC, offering Power Engineering and Gas Processing in Fort Nelson is the second major programming partnership that has occurred in the past couple of years. In 2009, NLC partnered with the Horn River Basin Shale Gas Producers Group to train 16 Fort Nelson-area residents as oil and gas field operators.

“Following in the footsteps of the successful Oil and Gas Field Operator program, we are very excited to partner again with industry and NEASEP to bring the Power Engineering program to Fort Nelson,” said Jeff Lekstrom, NLC’s Dean of Trades, Apprenticeship and Technology. “We believe that with the oil and gas activity in the Fort Nelson area, graduates of this program will be in a good position to contribute to local industry and the community.”

These are just a few examples of the types of partnerships our colleges are forming with local businesses and industry to create dynamic learning opportunities for students in addition to contributing to regional economic development. Forming close ties with business and industry is logical and mutually beneficial. After all, BC's colleges are the primary provider of skilled, job ready graduates in the province. Working with business and industry to create programs that will graduate students with the required skills benefits everyone.

To learn more about how your business can partner with one of our 11 public colleges, please contact me here.

Jim Reed
President, BC Colleges
Tel. 250-595-4866