Enrollment in post secondary institutions is up across the province, and the Upper Columbia Valley is no exception, with the Invermere College of the Rockies campus as busy as it can get, according to the local campus manager.

A recent Ministry of Advanced Education press release touted the increase in post secondary school students, pointing out that the province’s 25 pubic post secondary institutions (which include the College of the Rockies) had a combined total of 426,317 students during the September 2015 to June 2015 academic year (the most recent year for which statistics are available), up from the 370,744 in students in the September 2002 to June 2003 academic year.

It’s a trend certainly borne out locally, said Invermere College of the Rockies campus manager Doug Clovechok.

“Overall our college-wide numbers are up year-on-year, and our campus numbers here in Invermere are up year-on-year,” said Clovechok, although he cautioned against reading too much into campus specific figures, since the year-on-year numbers in Invermere do vary significantly depending on whether or not certain rotational programs (which move from one College of the Rockies campus to the next each year) happen to be in Invermere on a given year.

“We’re not a huge campus, but we’re just getting hammered at the moment,” he said. “On any given day we are pretty well jammed full.”

Clovechok added that typically when economic times are tough, post-secondary institutions see increases in students, but currently the opposite seems to be happening the provincial economy is booming, and colleges, trade schools and universities are full.

“It’s a good news scenario. We have the lowest unemployment of any province. There are jobs everywhere, and I think that means people are seeing that there is opportunity everywhere, and they are getting trained, or in many cases getting retrained, to take advantage of those opportunities,” he said. “Especially for trades, for which there is a ton of demand right now.”

The campus is currently running, or gearing up to soon run, its Targeted Initiative for Older Workers program; Trades Discovery program (run locally in partnership with Canfor, Home Hardware, the Shuswap Indian Band, and David Thompson Secondary School); the new Mountain Hospitality program (a six-week version will run this fall, and next spring, before a two-year diploma program launches next fall); Leadership Boot Camp for Business; another lifeguard program; another aesthetics training program; the Business Excellence Fundamental program (which covers QuickBook, payroll and bookkeeping); five chainsaw training courses; and several other continuing education programs.

In addition the college is seeking funding to once again run its Health Care assistant program this coming January.

“So we’re really, really busy,” said Clovechok. “We’ve advertised the Mountain Hospitality program for one day and already have four people on a waiting list.”

Clovechok added the college tries as much as possible to understand the needs of the business community, researching what qualifications are needed “and then we try to fill that from an educational perspective.”

The Ministry of Advanced Education press release mentioned that enrolment of international students in the province’s post secondary institutions increased from 17,838 in the September 2002 to June 2003 academic year to 45,132 in the September 2014 to June 2015 academic year.

Clovechok told the Echo he expects the two-year Mountain Hospitality diploma program will “probably bring international students to our community.”

The ministry press release outlined a gender split among the province’s post secondary students of 53 per cent female to 47 per cent male, and said that 49 per cent of students are under 25 years old, while 19 per cent are more than 40 years old.

The top five programs at the province’s post secondary institutions, according to the release, were arts and science (28 per cent of students), business and management (14 per cent), engineering and applied science (11 per cent), human and social courses (9 per cent) and trades (9 per cent).

The press release also mentioned that 62,443 post secondary academic credentials were awarded in the province during the September 2014 to June 2015 academic year, including graduate degrees (11 per cent), first professional and post-degree academic credentials (three per cent), bachelors degrees (39 per cent), certificates and diplomas (44 per cent) and development certificates (3 per cent).