By Vivian Moreau
When Vancouver resident Tim Greiner heard about a new tourism program starting up at Capilano College he and his girlfriend gave up their downtown apartments to move to Squamish so Greiner could enter the program.
Sixteen months later Greiner and 10 other students are the first graduating class of the college’s destination resort management co-op program.
Capilano’s Squamish campus dean says the program that can accommodate 27 students is a natural for the Sea to Sky corridor and was developed with Whistler in mind.
“It’s part of our long-term strategy that we hope will help move the corridor forward as a national and international leader as a centre for tourism education,” said Casey Dorin, adding that the college intends to increase its Sea to Sky presence as the 2010 Games approach.
As a graduating student, Greiner recommends the program that trains tourism management hopefuls in finance, human resources, communications and leadership skills, in addition to a 500-hour paid work term.
The former snowmobile guide who wants to open his own business in Fernie says the class of 20-45 year olds made for a dynamic learning experience.
“A lot of people in the class had a lot of experience in
tourism already and it was a small, mature, intimate group filled with
discussion and the instructors helped promote those discussions,” Greiner said.
Teaching in the province’s only 16-month tourism management
program was a treat for human resources instructor Rick Davies. A former
Blackcomb training manager, Davies said the group was “tremendously fresh and
keen” and he didn’t have to worry about instilling in them the basic tenets of
the program, that they are to be tourism industry leaders.
“You can teach someone human resources concepts and they can
learn it but teaching them to be human resources managers is a step above, so
although they’re young people they have to think like management,” Davies said,
adding this year’s graduates had the right mix of charisma and acumen that
tourism managers require.
Tourism B.C.’s vice-president would like to see more programs
like Capilano’s producing graduates to take the edge off the province’s
hospitality labour shortage.
“The numbers are astounding in terms of new jobs that we need
to reach our growth potential and target, so not only do we need people we need
trained professionals who know what they’re doing and can deliver a quality
experience on the ground,” Rick Lemon said from Tourism B.C.’s Vancouver
office. “I wish we had 15 more programs like the one in Squamish turning out
trained professionals for our business because we certainly do need them.”
Greiner, who did his co-op work requirement at Fairmont Chateau
Whistler’s golf course, is taking a break and travelling to Europe with his
girlfriend Sarah Bentley, before he hopes to settle in Fernie. Having
researched the southeastern B.C. area he thinks Fernie is the best place to
start his own independent concierge service. He says Capilano College’s program
has given him the skills to do just that and recommends anyone thinking of
applying to the program to do so.
“The buzz is out and it’s getting a lot of interest now and from this year on the program will just get better.”