The Whistler Learning Centre’s new partnership with BCIT looks to provide Sea to Sky residents with post-secondary education courses delivered in Whistler.
Suki Cheyne, the Executive Director of the Whistler Learning Centre (WLC), explained that the relationship with BCIT goes back to a symposium in 2016, which discussed what post-secondary education in Whistler could look like and if there was an interest in bringing courses to the area. Cheyne says the overwhelming response from those who attended was ‘yes’ to offering courses in the community.
Following the symposium, BCIT supported the idea by committing resources to research and the partnership was born.
Part of the research involved talking to residents and employers.
“We’ve been conducting focus groups and market research for the last year, the data collected contributed to the September BCIT courses that we will be hosting in Whistler,” says Cheyne.
Community consultation revealed that the best fit for Whistler was to start with business and leadership courses, which could not only help local businesses develop their workforce in a labor crisis, but also provide high school graduates with an option if they decided to take a gap year.
“By holding face-to-face courses locally, it means people don’t have to leave their community, their job, families, or support network to pursue their professional development,” says Cheyne.
Sonia Dhaliwal, a Program Planning Analyst at BCIT, explains that courses have been tailored to the community needs, and they fit the Whistler lifestyle by not running during peak season. The accredited courses would not only be suitable for those who want to directly go into a program, but also those who simply want to refresh their skills.
“People end up leaving Whistler to further their education. From an employer’s perspective, these courses will help with the retention of staff and keeping people here,” says Dhaliwal.
Cheyne says the nice thing about these courses is individuals can tackle post-secondary education in a granular way. Courses can be taken in short blocks, with options to complete evening courses over six weeks, or over two long weekends.
“You can take courses that are very relevant to the skills you need at that point in your job or career, which can also be combined with other courses to ladder into full programs,” says Cheyne.
“The courses provide people with the opportunity to further their careers within Whistler. Our hope is these courses help people figure out how they can stay and not have to leave to pursue their career elsewhere,” Dhaliwal says.
They hope this pilot offering of courses in the fall will provide more feedback to understand what the right fit for the community is when it comes to accredited education and life-long learning.
“Early enrollment is important, don’t leave it to the last minute. This is a pilot, which has the potential to grow into a broader range of subjects to meet the life-long learning needs of the community,” says Cheyne.
Registration for the fall enrolment closes August 26th.