South Okanagan students looking for health-care training will soon find it a lot closer to home.
A special intake of Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant program is scheduled to be held in February that will give students in the South Okanagan direct access to training for one of the most in-demand positions in the province.
The program will be offered through the College’s Oliver campus.
“The South Okanagan is desperate for health care assistants,” explained Lisa Kraft, Associate Dean of Science Technology and Health for Okanagan College. “That need exists across the province, but there is a significant demand within health-care facilities and homes in this part of the region.”
Okanagan College received $89,000 in one-time funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to support delivery of the program in Oliver, which will also enhance access for residents of nearby Osoyoos, Okanagan Falls and Keremeos.
The news is especially relevant to the Osoyoos community as it contemplates the development of its own primary health care facility.
According to WorkBC, health care assistants have been identified as a priority occupation for the B.C. Ministry of Health. Average employment growth rates in this field are forecasted at 13 percent to 2022, with no sign of slowing down.
This demand is anticipated to increase even more after the Government of B.C. announced funding to increase staffing levels in residential care homes for seniors, which aims to fund more than 900 health care assistants by 2021.
“Students will be making a living wage right out of school, in a profession that offers a variety of shifts, making it easy to find work that best fits their lives,” says Kraft.
“Most importantly, health care assistants find their work extremely rewarding. Graduates often tell us how much they appreciate the opportunity to have a significant impact on the quality of life for people in care.”
An information night for people to learn more about the Health Care Assistant program and field will be held Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at Southern Okanagan Secondary School in Oliver.
The six-month intensive program runs for 26 weeks starting on Feb. 4, 2019, and will feature four months of classroom instruction and two months of hands-on practicum for students to learn within the health-care environment.
Applications can be submitted online. For information, call 250-492-4305, ext. 3203 or visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/hca.