Tanya Helton

Northwest Community College preparing to meet workforce demands

With the light of better economic days in northern B.C. on the horizon, NWCC is trying to prepare an accompanying workforce.

With the light of better economic days in northern B.C. on the horizon, Northwest Community College (NWCC) is trying to prepare an accompanying workforce.

Tanya Helton, NWCC dean of instruction, spoke about the role NWCC hopes to have in training for industry jobs at a Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week, asking businesses and groups to help.

“We have no idea how bright the future is, but I don’t know if we’re ready to handle it when it does come,” she said.

NWCC wants chamber members to help identify needed workers so it can offer the right training programs.

But providing training isn’t solely up to NWCC, says Helton. Industry must help by offering practicums placements.

“A big part of the gap for our students coming out of training is the actual practical experience. Many of them are frustrated that they’ve done all those years of school and all that work to upgrade, and then they’re applying for jobs but being told by employers they don’t have the experience,” she said.

Helton took the opportunity to encourage employers to integrate diversity in the workforce by hiring individuals with developmental disabilities, who she says are being under-utilized.

“Many are ready and able to work and will be long-term skilled employees who aren’t going to move on to other jobs because they’re perfectly happy doing the job they get trained to do.”

NWCC is helping to prepare people with developmental disabilities by increasing adult special education courses. Helton said a memorandum of understanding with Douglas College is in the works to offer programs to people with special needs or barriers to employment. Helton said the parties are in discussion about which programs to provide, again requesting input from businesses and groups.