Muskens: Education aimed where jobs growth in B.C. is expected

One new program at Okanagan College was an Animation Fundamentals certificate.

The British Columbia government occasionally finds funding to put toward targeted areas of skills development. That occurred this year, and Okanagan College received approximately $550,000.

The funds are intended to create additional capacity and new opportunities for people to gain skills and knowledge that will help them find, bolster or change careers.

Although some money went into new intakes for some of our existing programs (electrician program in Revelstoke) other money went into some new certificates offered by our Continuing Studies department.

One program which was new to Kelowna and was offered over the summer in partnership with Capilano University, was an Animation Fundamentals certificate.

This program provides students with an introduction into the field of animation. It’s one of those programs which I would call a sampler. Students took courses in drawing, animation design, animation principles and timing, and also digital animation where most of the industry is today.

It allows someone interested in the animation field an opportunity to see if this is really what they want to do before they invest in a much longer, more expensive program.

Animators tend to find employment in the movie and television industry, or working for advertising agencies, web design firms, and video game companies.

Another new program in the works, courtesy of the additional funding, is a certificate in Safety and Supervision in Oil and Gas. A stellar safety record is important to many companies trying to attract workers into the oil and gas field. To meet the needs of these companies the college hopes to launch this program soon. I suspect it will be of interest to the many locals who live in the valley but work out-of-province or up north, or those looking to find a job in this high growth area.

Mining in the last 10 years has become a major industry in Canada. Today there are well over 800 mining operations in Canada which employ more than 363,000 Canadians. Mining is expected to have high growth rates at the same time Canada faces skilled labour shortages. This is at a time when it is difficult to get Canadians interested in working in the mining industry.

Most people remember mining accidents—which doesn’t bode well for this industry—yet the safety standards in Canadian mines are the best in the world. On top of all that, not all mining work means you’re actually in the mine. With the use of technology such as robotics, computers and state-of-the-art equipment, a miner can be at a desk above ground while operating equipment hundreds of meters below. Besides a high demand for skilled workers in this industry, there are also hundreds of jobs related to mining; everything from working in the field of exploration to a desk job.

In response to industry growth the college is developing and planning to offer a certificate in mining basic safety to help participants better understand what working in a mine really entails and what safety measures are in place. It will hopefully make participants realize that working in the mining industry isn’t like the coals mines of Cape Breton Island two centuries ago.

All of these new programs will be offered through Continuing Studies at Okanagan College. If you are interested in these programs, watch our web site, or contact the office in your area for more details.

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