Aquaculture training means jobs for the Island

Free Aquaculture Technician Diploma program being offered in Port McNeill beginning in early December.

PORT McNEILL—North Island job-seekers could find themselves work in the aquaculture industry with the aid of a free Aquaculture Technician Diploma program being offered in Port McNeill beginning in early December.

A partnership between Excel College and the Canada-B.C. Labour Market Agreement will providing a free aquaculture technician diploma program to qualified, low-skill workers on the North Island students. Prospective students who have no college or university diploma, and who have not been on EI for at least three years, may be eligible for the no-cost program combining classroom training with on-the-job practicum.

“So far, we’re finding people have been hired straight off their practicum,” said Mike Kervel, admissions director for Excel College.

Up to sixty people on Vancouver Island are beginning the 25-week training program to learn the skills necessary to work as aquaculture technicians in the aquaculture industry.

The aquaculture technician diploma program is being offered by Excel Career College in three areas of Vancouver Island: Port Alberni, Port McNeill and Campbell River. Aquaculture employers in these areas are in demand for skilled workers, but potential employees have had little access to relevant skills training, as the program is currently offered only in Courtenay.

“Our government’s top priority is creating and protecting jobs for British Columbians,” said Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation. “This aquaculture training program will not only help employers on Vancouver Island address their demand for skilled workers, but it will also provide British Columbians in more remote communities on Vancouver Island the opportunity to train in this industry and find a job.”

The first local classes, beginning Dec. 3, will be Intro to Technology and will be held at the Community Futures of Mount Waddington offices. Kervel said a second round of classes will commence in January, so potential students may still apply.

The training is part of a Labour Market Sector Solutions project with the BC Salmon Farmers Association, which is designed to help participant’s secure permanent employment in the aquaculture industry while helping local employers meet labour demands.

The intensive program creates additional opportunities for these communities to offer training to local participants, while meeting local demand. As part of the program, participants will be placed with local aquaculture employers for a two-week practicum and will be assisted with longer-term job search activities.

The aquaculture technician diploma program is supported by $458,200 in funding through the Canada – British Columbia Labour Market Agreement.

“Aquaculture is a half-billion dollar industry in British Columbia, providing jobs and economic opportunities for families and communities up and down the Coast,” said Don McRae, Minister of Agriculture. “Providing training for the next generation of workers is part of our Agri-food strategy, to increase B.C.’s overall agri-food revenues to $14 billion annually by 2017.”

According to the provincial government, British Columbia is projected to have more than one million job openings over the coming decade. The BC Jobs Plan will ensure the more than $500 million provided annually for labour market and training programs is targeted to meeting regional and industry labour market needs.

“This project is very helpful to our members and similar businesses, as it enables the development of skill-specific training and creates a pool of skilled people interested in working in the industry,” said Mary Ellen Walling, executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association. “It’s of particular benefit to people in the smaller geographic regions where we operate. As we anticipate continued growth in the sector, we expect a continued demand for skilled employees.”

To register or get info on the aquaculture diploma program, call Kervel at 1-888-280-2452 or email mikek@excelcareercollege.com.

 

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