The Invermere campus of College of the Rockies has been tailoring its courses and programs to where employment demand is highest — with its health care assistant program and haul truck driving program generating particular interest.
“Obviously the purpose of a community college is to focus on what the community actually needs,” said Invermere campus president Doug Clovechok. “With the health care assistant program in Invermere, with Interior Health and with Golden Life Management, they really need employees.”
This year’s health care assistant program will be the fifth consecutive time the college has run the program, said Mr. Clovechok, adding that each course has been filled to the 16-student capacity.
The seven-month program offers student a combination of practical and theoretical instruction.
“At the end they come out with knowledge and skills focusing on the care of individuals in residential care and assisted living facilities, basically helping residents with anything they need help with,” said Mr. Clovechok. “There’s a huge demand in our community for that; we’re big into health care here in Invermere.”
Graduates of the program are not nurses, but some of them do go on to become licensed practical nurses or even registered nurses, according to Mr. Clovechok.
“It’s a first entrance into the health care profession,” he said. “If you are interested in that kind of thing, that’s where you start.”
The college is looking at potentially holding a rotational program (moving between different College of the Rockies campuses in the East Kootenay) for licensed practical nursing, said Mr. Clovechok.
The regional campuses of the college also collectively bought six haul truck simulators, including two mobile ones, which the college uses for its haul truck driving courses.
“They train people on simulators to drive these big trucks that are used in mines,” said Mr. Clovechok. “I’ve driven one of (the simulators); it’s just a blast. We are really excited.”
One of the college’s haul truck simulators will be in Invermere for a week-long program with the Shuswap Band later this fall.
A full four-week course on the simulators is not cheap, at $7,500, but demand for haul truck drivers is high and other places that offer simulator courses usually have waiting lists, according to Mr. Clovechok.
“Our phones are ringing off the hook with employers looking for haul truck drivers,” he said.
Partnering with industry, government and local organizations (such as Kootenay Employment Services and the Chamber of Commerce) helps the college figure out where employment demand is greatest.
Forestry and mining jobs often require extensive first aid training and the college consequently offers a lot of first aid courses, said Mr. Clovechok, adding the college currently is running a First Aid Level Three course.
The college’s Invermere campus has previously hosted a hair dressing program on a rotational basis with other East Kootenay campuses and hopes to have it back in Invermere again in 2015.
“We are always looking for training opportunities that will help small businesses in our communities,” said Mr. Clovechok.
The Invermere campus is also working on a tourism management program in partnership with Fairmont Hot Springs Resort and
Panorama Mountain Village.