Tensions flared in a recent Burns Lake village council meeting during a discussion on the educational offerings of the College of New Caledonia (CNC) and the village’s job market.
On Dec. 11, recently-appointed CNC Vice President Academic Dr. Chad Thompson made a presentation to the council, one of several presentations the college gives to the communities where it has campuses.
At one point, Thompson responded to a question from councillor Charlie Rensby on the needs of the job market and the college’s trades programs.
Their exchange at times became heated.
Rensby said some Burns Lake businesses can’t fill certain positions, such as heavy duty mechanics, because the CNC doesn’t offer the right training.
“Students end up going to Prince George [to study] and don’t come back,” he told Thompson.
“CNC isn’t meeting the standards [students] need.”
Rensby went on to say that the CNC is “a shell of what it used to be” in terms of providing support to students and the community, citing the discontinuation of some programs at the college.
In response, Thompson said the college is always receptive to the needs of the community, but that its program offerings depend on several factors.
“The ITA [Industry Training Authority] regulates programs very closely. [But] the viability of the program in Burns Lake has been raised,” he said. “Another issue is whether graduates would be able to find employment in Burns Lake. If we’re training 16 heavy duty mechanics in Burns Lake – are we training those students to move to a different centre?”
“It’s a discussion we’ve tried over the past two years to look at facilities in the community to meet the specifications of the ITA. But we haven’t been able to find a facility [in Burns Lake] that would satisfy the ITA regulations.”
Speaking to Lakes District News after the council meeting, Thompson pointed out that CNC offers trades programs every year.
Last year it taught carpentry and in February of 2019 it will teach pipes trades.
“The largest single group of students that take courses here are in adult upgrading. That is all done face to face and not through DDI [Digital Delivery Instruction],” Thompson said.
“The next largest group of students are in the practical nursing program. Through DDI we have students taking classes in business management and general university studies.”
At the moment you can take your pick of 24 university transfer courses offered through Direct Digital Instruction.
Thompson was on Dec. 10 appointed the new Vice President Academic of CNC, after he served as the Acting Vice President Academic since December of last year.