A message from Okanagan College President, Dr. Neil Fassina:
For many people, this week marks the start of a new chapter. The first day of classes, a return to school, those initial moments where you check out the textbooks, syllabus, and materials of a new course – the energy on campus this time of year is electric and exciting.
This year is all the more special for OC, because we’re celebrating sixty years since the opening of the B.C. Vocational Institute in Kelowna and the College’s growth through the region in the decades that followed.
Since the first students arrived in 1963, the College’s educational offerings have expanded dramatically. Today, we see about 17,000 students annually, who are enrolled in programs across diverse portfolios – including Technology, Health and Social Development, Trades, Business, Science and Arts.
Students earn degrees, diplomas, certificates and microcredentials, and quite often, once graduated – they come back again. With 60,000 alumni, it is impossible not to find a connection to the College regardless of where you live and work in the region.
Through 60 years, the College’s reach includes many more people. Generous donors, volunteers, family members of students and staff – each one is integral to the vibrant OC community that so often comes together, especially in challenging times. This summer’s wildfires were no exception, as our team members donated meals, shared resources and demonstrated support for those impacted.
Across B.C. and throughout Canada, we are experiencing labour market pressures in all sectors. Over the next decade, here in the Thompson Okanagan, it’s anticipated there will be over 120,000 job openings – and more than 54 per cent of those will require a College post-secondary education.
As I reflect on the thousands of students who will join Okanagan College this academic year, whether they are embarking on a multi-year degree or diploma program, taking a shorter course to upskill in their current profession, or pivoting their career to follow a new path, it is clear each one has both the potential and an opportunity to contribute and make a meaningful impact.
The learning that “starts” this week for many students at Okanagan College is vital: our graduates will unquestionably fill jobs where we need them, be they in trades, health care, social services, industry, businesses or beyond.
With that in mind, on behalf of all of us at Okanagan College, I want to extend a warm welcome to everyone across OC this fall semester. Whether you’re taking those first steps into a classroom in Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon, Salmon Arm or Revelstoke, or you’re joining online or in the workplace – we’re as excited as you are to be “back to school” this September, and we can’t wait for the journey that lies ahead.
Way’, Weytkp, Welcome!