Construction is underway for Okanagan College's new Health Sciences Centre that will give students better access to training for a health-science career.
"Students will get the skills and training in a modern building for a range of health-care and social-development careers," said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. "Nurses, pharmacy technicians and early childhood educators are in-demand jobs that people rely on every day in communities around the province to keep our families safe and healthy."
The new 2,800 square-metre (30,000 square-foot) Health Sciences Centre will be an integrated learning centre. Programming provided through the new centre will include diploma and certificate programs, to help meet the need for high-priority health-care professionals, such as practical nurses, dental assistants, special-needs workers and health-care assistants.
"The groundbreaking is an exciting milestone in the start of a new era in training health professionals at the college," said Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College (OC). "The Health Sciences Centre has been a high priority for us, and will be welcome news for thousands of students who will go on to become an important part of our province's workforce."
"Having access to the skilled graduates coming out of Okanagan College is incredibly important for Interior Health," said Susan Brown, vice-president and chief operating officer, hospitals and communities, Interior Health. "We hire as many OC graduates as we can, as we've found them to be well prepared for helping us to provide the highest quality of care to our patients, residents and clients."
"This new building is going to provide an amazing state-of-the-art space for students to learn in, which is only going to enhance the great instruction we receive at the college," said Maran Kokoszka, a pharmacy technician student at the Kelowna campus. "Technology is always changing in this field, so having a bright new space and the latest equipment is really going to enrich the learning experience, and fill students with confidence as they train to become health-care or social-development professionals."
The total cost of the project is $18.9 million, including $15.4 million from the Province of B.C., with the remainder from Okanagan College through reserves and fundraising. Completion is estimated for spring 2020, with student occupancy in fall 2020.
According to the Labour Market Outlook, 917,000 job openings are expected in B.C. by 2027. This includes more than 79,000 job openings in the health-occupation group, and more than 75,000 in the natural and applied sciences and related occupations group.