B.C. students have more opportunities to train for in-demand health-care jobs

October 1, 2021 at 11:16 am  BC, News, Politics

British Columbians looking for rewarding health-care careers now have access to a state-of-the-art learning environment with Okanagan College’s new Health Sciences Centre, which opened to students this semester.

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s how essential health-care workers are to our province,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We know B.C. needs more health-care professionals, and we’re committed to training a new generation of the people who care for us when we need it. Okanagan College’s new Health Sciences Centre is a modern, new facility that will help set both students and our province up for success.”

Opened at the Kelowna campus in September 2021, the 2,822-square-metre (30,375-square-foot) facility includes student-centred labs, classrooms and office space for a wide array of health and social development programs. The cutting-edge learning environments have been equipped with the latest education technology and designed to reflect spaces students will encounter in industry. The building will support 591 students in programs that train students for in-demand jobs, such as certified dental assistant, health-care assistant, pharmacy technician and more.

“The new Health Sciences Centre at Okanagan College is helping meet the demand for employment growth and the health-care services people in the Southern Okanagan and B.C. Interior rely on every day,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This building is a showcase of our commitment to building learning spaces that meet the growing demand for services, while ensuring these structures reflect the best in sustainable building practices.”

Health-care professionals are in high demand in the province and across Canada. The 2019 BC Labour Market Outlook projected 117,100 job openings in health professions by 2029. Okanagan College students in programs ranging from its bachelor of science in nursing to health-care assistant, pharmacy technician and dental assistant will study in the new building. 

“This new facility will provide Okanagan College students with a world-class learning environment that will only further enhance the already outstanding education and training they are receiving at the college,” said Neil Fassina, president, Okanagan College. “We are grateful to the Province and to the community donors and industry partners across the region who have stepped to help us open these doors at a time when well-trained health-care and social development professionals are needed more than ever.”

Aligned with the Province’s CleanBC goals for energy-efficient buildings, the building is one of 16 projects in the Canada Green Building Council’s (CaGBC) Zero Carbon Pilot Program, the results of which will help CaGBC refine the Zero Carbon Building Standard. The CaGBC is a not-for-profit founded in 2002 that works to advance green building and sustainable community development practices in Canada.


Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monahsee –

“Students will have an incredible new space to learn in at the new Health Sciences Centre. The blend of art and science is so evident in the design of the space. People throughout British Columbia benefit from the health-care services taught at Okanagan College, and having such an outstanding facility locally is good news for the entire region and province.”

Susan Brown, president and CEO, Interior Health –

“This purpose-built Health Sciences Centre in the heart of the Interior is a gamechanger for people living in the region who want to pursue health-care careers. Since attending the groundbreaking celebration three years ago, we have been excited for the day when students would be able to walk through the facility’s doors, and begin their journey in health care. Interior Health is actively recruiting throughout the region and now, more people will have the opportunity to develop the skills, education and experience they need for rewarding careers here at home.”

Yvonne Moritz, associate vice-president, education services, and interim dean, science, technology and health, Okanagan College –

“Given the hands-on, highly practical nature of health and social development training, it’s incredibly important for students and instructors to have access to learning environments that reflect the settings they’ll encounter out in the industry. In this new facility, students step into state-of-the-art health-care labs and settings that reflect the current realities of dynamic hospital, clinic and home care.” 

Katelyn McGillivray, bachelor of science nursing student, Okanagan College –

“Health care is a demanding field, so having state-of-the-art classrooms and labs like those in the new Health Sciences Centre is extremely important. As a student, I really appreciate how the college and the Province are investing in the best possible facilities and education that will set us up for success going into our careers.”

Quick Facts:

  • The $19.4-million Health Sciences Centre received $15.4 million from government, with the remaining $2.9 million funded by Okanagan College and $1.1 million from donors.
  • The Health Sciences Centre is home to the following programs: certified dental assistant, early childhood education, practical nursing, bachelor of science in nursing, health-care assistant, human service work, pharmacy technician, therapy assistant.

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