Grant for health care students
Okanagan Edge Staff - Sep 10, 2021 - Biz Releases

Photo: Alistair Waters
Students of the incoming Health Care Assistant diploma program at Kelowna’s First College

Thanks to funding from Work BC, 24 students in Kelowna are embarking on an eight-month practical education course to become health care assistants, a profession currently in great demand across B.C.

“We are thrilled to be able to provide this to our students,” said Timothy Yang, college director at First College in Kelowna, the institution that is providing training.

The grant is provided through the Community Workforce Response Grant program. It provides up to $10 million a year in funding for communities and sectors to support in-demand skills training leading to secure and sustainable employment for unemployed and precariously employed (part-time, seasonal or casual) British Columbians. 

A key goal of the grant is to provide flexible and timely responses to emerging and urgent labour and skills needs in B.C.’s communities and sectors.

Grant funding will also be available for eligible students in the January 2022 cohort.

The introduction of the Work B.C. grant has resulted in the largest incoming HCA class that the college has ever had for the program, said health faculty co-ordinator/instructor Denise Bryson.

Bryson said the program will include nine learning modules, the last of two being practicums – one in complex care and the other in assisted living.

A nurse herself, Bryson said she has seen the demand for trained health care workers during her years teaching at First College as her students are routinely offered jobs even before they graduate.

According to labour market specialists, the health care and social assistance sector will have more job openings than any other industry over the next 10 years in B.C. In the Thompson-Okanagan region alone, an estimated 11,000 new health care professionals will be required over the next 10 years.

In welcoming the students to the program Friday, guest speaker Kelowna city Coun. Maxine DeHart praised the students for picking a program that will train them for jobs that “will change people’s lives.”

“People want a job with purpose and you have the most purposeful jobs,” she said.

Like Bryson, DeHart noted graduates of the program have a number of opportunities once they are trained, including working in both the public and private sector.

As for the students, their reasons for enrolling may be different but all spoken to said they want to help people.

Meghan Law said she opted for the program after seeing how her grandmother was treated in a care home.

“I feel the elderly need to be treated better when they are in care,” she said.

Anne Algabre, who moved to Kelowna from the Philippines in December, said she opted for the HCA program instead of retraining here to be a dental assistant, a job she had back in her home country.

Laura McKenzie, who worked at a local costume shop but whose employment was cut short by the pandemic, said her interest in the program was piqued after reading an article on Castanet about it.

“That’s why I’m here,” she said.

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