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Demand for trades courses skyrocketing at Okanagan College

Students are bridging personal interests with applicable skills at Okanagan College.
February 01, 2013 - 5:02 PM

Something new is leading students to the classes they take at college: definable results. Okanagan College has seen a large upswing in enrollment for its trades programs, and an educational advisor believes it's the specific skills gained from them that makes them so appealing.

"As opposed to when I went to school, when it was 'why not try philosophy' kids are thinking 'what will I get out of this?" Jeanne Boekelheide says.

She says individuals still gravitate to classes based on interest, but are increasingly motivated by the end result of the course. They want to easily connect the class they're paying money for with job prospects in the future.

"Partly, it's the depressed times," Boekelheide says. "My daughter has a degree and she works as a hotel receptionist. It's the whole english major asking do you want fries with that?"

Boekelheide says the trades, technology, and nursing programs at the college are filled to the brim.

She says it's not just high school grads enrolling in the programs, it's individuals wanting to start over in a new career path too. The distance education programs are popular for individuals with families, or those who juggle school with work. As the internet has taken hold over the years, Boekelheide says distance education classes have been growing at the college.

Boekelheide believes the post secondary education world is a changing landscape, one in which more young women are entering the trades.

"They're starting to see it as more of a creative path," she says.

Jane Lister, regional dean for Okanagan College, says they've had to add multiple trades courses to meet the demand.

"Trades are just closed right out,"Lister says, noting the welding, plumbing and aircraft mechanics classes filled up particularly fast. The only trade that seems to be lacking numbers is residential construction, according to enrollment statistics for the school.

Still, the arts dominate with over 200 students enrolled for arts degrees. Science is catching up with 20% more than last year, but still only represents about 70 students.

Foundation classes—upgrades like Math and English for individuals who didn't complete them in highschool—have remained strong and steady over the past several years. The esthetician program has remained quite popular which Lister attributes to the clear skill set obtained from it.

The Okanagan Kelowna campus reported a crash in its international student enrollment—a trend not followed by the Vernon campus.

"We don't really have any international students because all the ESL classes are taught at the Kelowna campus," Lister says.

Vernon may not have international students, but what it does have is a fleet of electricians, estheticians, nurses and welders.

—Charlotte Helston
chelston@infotelnews.ca
(250)309-5230

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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