What's New at BC Colleges: October 20, 2011

Message from Jim Reed - President, BC Colleges

In an environment of global economic challenges, BC Colleges recognizes the significant issues facing the province now and in the future. Given these challenges, it’s crucial that we partner with government, local communities, business and industry to ensure post-secondary education remains a priority in BC.  Earlier this month we had an opportunity to elaborate on this position to the Select Standing Committee on Finance. Here is a link to our presentation - “Partnering to Provide the Advanced Skills to Power BC’s Economy”.

According to the recent Labour Market Outlook report, in the coming decade there will be more than one million job openings in BC and 78 per cent of these positions will require post-secondary education. The largest portion, 42 per cent, will require college or trades certification.  College graduates are going to be in high demand, and investment is needed now to ensure we can provide the education, training and advanced skills necessary to power the provincial economy in all regions of BC.

BC Colleges can and will play a lead role in the success of the Canada Starts Here: BC Jobs plan. Our colleges provide the education and training necessary to support government’s job growth plans and regional economic initiatives.  Plus, we are the frontline educators in over 70 communities, and the primary providers of education to Aboriginal learners, immigrants, displaced workers and the underemployed.  The participation in, and transition to the workforce of these groups will be a key factor in the success of the BC Jobs Plan.

Like the provincial government, our colleges are also facing the challenges of tight budgets and we are responding to these challenges by looking for new opportunities to partner to achieve common goals. A recent review revealed more than 200 collaborations between our 11 member colleges, government, communities, industry, business and other post-secondary institutions. Partnerships are going to be even more important in the coming decade as we all strive to meet the workforce challenges ahead. BC Colleges proposes to launch the BC Colleges Advanced Skills Action Partnership (ASAP) program to work co-operatively with BC employers to meet their needs for highly skilled employees.

We are also responding to the fiscal environment by doing more with less and increasing our productivity. BC Colleges drives innovation and entrepreneurship in BC, which in turn drives productivity. Over the past decade, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) have successfully partnered with BC Colleges and this must be expanded. Together, with the BC Association of Institutes and Universities, we propose the launch of an Innovation and Applied Research program to focus on applied research with commercial applications that can be spun off to create new local business ventures or enhance the productivity of current businesses.

The Premier has stated that BC should be the most prosperous place in Canada. We fully support this and look forward to partnering and collaborating with the government, local communities, employers and other stakeholders to achieve this goal. And, following yesterday's announcement of the $8-billion contract to Seaspan, our colleges stand ready to work together with industry to provide the highly skilled workers (welders, millwrights, technologists, business graduates and other highly skilled workers) needed to fill these jobs.

For a full list of this month's news please check out  "In the News" at the website. As always, I welcome your feedback. You can reach me by e-mail at


Jim Reed President, BC Colleges

B.C. faces big challenges to prepare workers who will build the future: Cathy Minty is part of a new group of apprentices who will play a crucial role in leading a highly skilled workforce into the next two decades
Vancouver Sun, Darah Hansen, October 15, 2011

Cathy Minty missed the premier's speech on job creation in British Columbia earlier this month. The 34-year-old Delta resident, and rookie apprentice in the plumbing trade, was busy lugging supplies up three flights of stairs, soldering copper piping and drilling holes in the concrete floors of the Willow Pavilion at Vancouver General Hospital. It's a tough and dirty job, but Minty's up to it. A single mom with five children, ages four to 13 years, she's no stranger to hard work. As an apprentice, she now has the opportunity to get paid for the hours she puts in, while working toward completing her journeyman qualifications over the next four years. Read more.

Prime Minister opens new facility at northern B.C. college
Canadian Press, Michaela Garstin, October 15, 2011

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was reminded of the criticism of his government's environmental track record as he opened an ultra-energy saving building at a northern B.C. college on Saturday. He presided over the officially opening of the new facility at North Lights College that will allow students to conduct research and prepare for careers in the alternative energy sector. But Harper faced media questions about whether announcements like Saturday's will be enough to satisfy critics who say his government has failed to do enough to fight climate change and curb greenhouse gas emissions. Read more.

Shambhala sponsorship makes Selkirk College sing!
Selkirk College Media Release, October 12, 2011

Shambhala Music Festival has contributed $75,000 toward the revitalization of Selkirk College’s performance and rehearsal space (formerly Studio 80) at Selkirk College’s Tenth Street campus in Nelson, B.C.  The sponsorship puts the college over its $150,000 fundraising goal for the facility and enables the purchase and installation of new seats, lighting and sound equipment. "We are, of course, thrilled!" says Director of Communications and Development, Barry Auliffe. "We can now complete the studio with the equipment and upgrades needed to stay on the cutting edge of music and performance training. This provides a colossal advantage for Selkirk’s Contemporary Music and Technology students! It’s exciting for the community as well—we will now have a professional, high tech venue in which to enjoy performances." Read more.

Health care students train on new METIman simulator
Camosun College Media Release, October 7, 2011

The Camosun College Foundation thanks Telus, the Sisters of St. Ann and nursing alumnus Robin Bridge for their combined donations toward the purchase of a $36,000 wireless “METIman” - a computerized human patient simulator used to train health care students. The Telus Victoria Community Board donated $18,000 toward the simulator, while the Sisters of St. Ann provided $10,000 and alumnus Robin Bridge, RN, contributed $5,000. The donations are part of Camosun’s plans to enhance its health care training labs and provide more practice skills opportunities to health care students at all levels. The METIman is a human-like simulator that is fully wireless with a web-based interface. It is operated by touch screen medical scenario software that generates virtual medical situations (from routine to life-threatening), including adult emergency care, medical, surgical, mental health and community health care scenarios. Read more.

COTR first in Canada to offer YourCampus360 virtual tour
College of the Rockies Media Release, October 3, 2011

Through the magic of modern technology you can now tour the campuses of College of the Rockies from anywhere in the world, any time. COTR is the first post-secondary institution in Canada to incorporate YourCampus360's walking tour technology to support its domestic and international recruitment initiatives. Executive Director, College Relations and Marketing Donna Kraus-Hagerman noted: “We recognize the fact that students are evaluating colleges online and many lack the time and resources to travel to visit us, especially given our geographic location. Now, through a narrated virtual campus tour, prospective students can explore our communities, campus resources and lifestyle." Read more.

Enrolment at Douglas College highest ever
Douglas College Media Release, October 3, 2011

For the second year in a row, enrolment at Douglas College has hit an all-time high. This fall more than 10,700 students - up five percent from last year and almost 12 percent from 2009 - walked through the doors at the New Westminster and Coquitlam campuses. "Douglas's reputation as an excellent place to get a post-secondary education is growing," says Scott McAlpine, President of Douglas College. "More people are choosing Douglas based on the strength of our academic and career-based programs, and the quality of our teaching." The number of part-time students is up eight percent over last year and 17 percent over 2009. "An increasing number of people are returning to school to upgrade their skills and knowledge," says McAlpine. "The rise in part-time students is indicative of our changing world, in which second career learners - many of whom have work and family commitments - are looking for flexibility in their education." This fall's cohort includes nearly 1,000 international students, a 17 percent increase over last year. The number of international students enrolled at Douglas has more than doubled since 2007. Read more.

Langara Creates New Partnership with the University of Sussex
Langara College Media Release, September 30, 2011

Langara College has forged yet another international partnership, this time with Britain’s University of Sussex. The latest Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Sussex will allow students who have completed 60 credits of university-transferable study in Arts, Science, or Business at Langara to study towards a law degree at one of Britain’s leading law schools. This is the third international partnership Langara has forged in September: previously, Langara signed MOUs with Australia’s Griffith University, and with INSCOL Academy, one of India’s leading healthcare service providers. The partnership agreement with the University of Sussex is unique in western Canada. Langara's part in the partnership is to provide students with gold-standard foundation courses that ready them for legal studies in the United Kingdom. The Law School at Sussex will guarantee a place in their program to Langara students who meet the GPA requirements, without any placement testing like the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Read more.

North Island College Innovation Garners International Attention
North Island College Media Release, September 29, 2011

Scientists and post-secondary curriculum designers from all over North America have gathered at North Island College’s Comox Valley campus to explore the use of the web for delivering university-level science courses. As architects of the technology supporting the Remote Web-Based Science Laboratory (RWSL) project, having spent the past three years designing and building the prototypes, North Island College’s own Ron Evans and Albert Balbon are front and centre at the conference, demonstrating the technology, including the purpose-built robotic arm, used to conduct laboratory experiments remotely.Read more.

VCC teams up with Aboriginal community to train future nurses
Vancouver Community College Media Release, September 26, 2011

A unique partnership between Vancouver Community College and Seabird Island Band in the upper Fraser Valley has sent its first group of graduates into the exciting world of practical nursing. After studying for more than 18 months, ten Aboriginal students from several different First Nations communities were honoured at a ceremony in Agassiz. Many graduates have already started working in the health care industry and were even photographed for the Agassiz Harrison Observer newspaper.“This partnership empowered First Nations students to improve their knowledge and skills, therefore improving the lives of themselves, their families and their communities,” says RN Laureen Duerksen, Seabird Island Band program coordinator. Read more.

It's official: NWCC Smithers Campus is open!
Northwest Community College Media Release, September 23, 2011

The public answered Northwest Community College's invitation today as hundreds came out for a street party to mark the official opening of the newly-renovated, state-of-the-art Smithers Campus. The day's festive atmosphere reached its peak with the blessing and raising of a 28-foot red cedar totem pole, carved by local artists Ron Austin and James Madam. Raised in partnership with the Wet’suwet’en, the pole marks the symbolic last piece of the project. "This project has been about partnerships from day one and today all those partners and all our communities were represented in a celebration that owes so much to this beautiful and stunning pole that will greet everyone who comes to our Smithers Campus," said Dr. Denise Henning, NWCC President and CEO. The campus itself opened to classes earlier this year for the spring and summer semesters following an 18-month, two-phase renewal and expansion project. The result, exclaimed visitors and speakers alike today, is a beautiful and modern facility. Read more.

CNC’s flight training program officially takes off
College of New Caledonia Media Release, September 23, 2011

Two state-of-the-art flight simulators at CNC’s Nechako campus in Vanderhoof will help train students who want to earn their wings as commercial airline pilots. The high-tech simulators are essential for CNC’s Aviation Business Diploma program that took off earlier this month. The 20-month program combines pilot training with a full slate of business courses. At a combined cost of $165,000, the simulators were funded by Western Economic Diversification Canada, Northern Development Initiative Trust and the Nechako-Kitimat Development Fund. Read more.

Record Enrolment at Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release, September 23, 2011

Yet another record fall enrolment points to continued growth at Okanagan College. A snapshot of student enrolment in mid-September shows an overall four per cent increase in the number of students over the same time last year: 6,216 compared to 5,976 a year ago. That news comes in the wake of a 16 per cent increase in the College’s summer enrolments. “This growth is an important signal,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “It means we’re able to accommodate more students who are able to pursue their career and academic goals.” Read more.


BC Colleges is a consortium representing BC’s 11 public, community colleges serving more than 200,000 students annually with campuses in close to 70 communities throughout British Columbia. BC’s colleges offer a comprehensive range of programs from university studies and baccalaureate degrees to career, technical and trades education. All of BC’s colleges offer programs that are designed to be accessible, affordable and responsive to the evolving needs of BC communities and industry. For more information, visit our website.