Opinion

Thomson: Good news for Okanagan College

B.C. enjoys a post-secondary education system that we can be proud of.

Our institutions are recognized around the world, as students from far and wide come here to study.

In 2010-11, the number of international students increased by seven per cent, bringing the total to 100,700.

This is important, as a 10 per cent increase in the number of international students coming to our province creates an estimated 1,800 jobs and increases GDP by $100 million.

The LearnLiveBC website is one tool our government has developed to promote our post-secondary system abroad.

This site helps international students access information on our post-secondary institutions, attracting them to B.C. schools and allowing them to identify the ideal program to meet their career and educational goals.

By showcasing our exceptional institutions, the site will help draw greater numbers of international students to B.C., contributing to our communities socially, culturally, and economically.

The educational opportunities available in our province are already well-known to British Columbians.

Across B.C., our government is making targeted investments to ensure our students have opportunities to learn the skills they need to find a local job.

Our government has worked closely with post-secondary institutions to identify how we can best support them in meeting the needs of both our students and industry.

Here in our community, Okanagan College and its student body have achieved many remarkable accomplishments.

Recently, for the second year in a row, the Okanagan College finance team was named one of the top three teams in the country in the Inter-Collegiate Business Competition.

This follows the good news last November, when a group of students from Okanagan College took third place in the Certified Management Accountants-BC Case Competition. This competition included 30 teams from post-secondary institutions across B.C.

The college is also noteworthy for its leadership in environmental sustainability. The Centre for Learning, a five-storey, $28-million facility, has been certified by the Canada Green Building Council with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold status.

Likewise, Okanagan College has partnered with sustainable design experts, Diamond Schmitt Architects, to design the Kelowna trades facility expansion. These two buildings will ensure Okanagan College remains a leader in sustainable building practices in the future.

I’m very pleased our government has been able to work in close partnership with Okanagan College. We have invested in key programs, infrastructure, and equipment at Okanagan College to achieve our educational needs.

Last year, investments by our government included $550,000 in one-time funding for skills training, $570,000 in capital funding to improve facilities, $28 million for a comprehensive upgrade of the trades training complex, $342,872 for foundation skills seats, and  $867,000 for skills training equipment.

These investments will benefit both local students and the economy. It will help students by making it easier for them to find employment, and will boost the economy as these students fill the one million job openings projected to be available in B.C. over the next decade. The fact that we’ve committed over $63 million in capital investments at Okanagan College since 2005 reflects the exciting potential that our region has to offer, as well as the important place Okanagan College holds in the community.

For more information on the LearnLiveBC website, visit: www.learnlivebc.ca.

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