“Every system we rely on – water, roads and transportation, telecommunications and Internet, hydro and natural gas, environment, health, forestry, and many more – utilizes engineering and applied science technology professionals working in the background,” says John Leech, executive director of the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of B.C.
B.C.’s telecom and IT, animation and many other sectors produce new careers every month.”
ASTTBC has more than 10,000 members currently working in thousands of careers available to graduates of two-year diploma programs available at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and other B.C. colleges and institutes.
Leech calls on government for renewed efforts to build student skills and confidence in math and science programming.
Lisa Kraus, career development assistant for School District in Williams Lake, says she arranges work experience programs for high school students in the city and has received great support from Interior Health, at Cariboo Memorial Hospital, and local mining companies.
“We have students that can job shadow a nurse, respiratory therapy, diagnostic imaging, booking, and into the lab there. That’s just one of our sponsors. We also have strong support with Mount Polley and Gibraltar Mines,” Kraus says.
Students interested in engineering have gone to job shadow engineers in the mines. Students are supported to go out into the field to try careers they are interested in, she adds.
“The experience makes them more excited. I just took a student to the hospital today to meet the respiratory therapist. She’s so excited and her parents are excited about her having the opportunity,” Kraus says.
Science faculty member Marten Lattinga at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake campus teaches chemistry and physics and describes his small classes as an opportunity for students that are interested in furthering their education to succeed.
They can live in their home town where the surroundings are familiar, and if they apply themselves, the small class setting gives them more one-on-one with the instructor, and a better chance of achieving good grades to enrol in programs where the jobs market is “really hot,” he says.
“Some of my students go on to Kamloops to finish their degrees, but this can be a jumping off point to anywhere.”
Leech says the opportunities for those seeking work in the technology field are considerable given a wave of retirements of present-generation B.C. technology professionals that is already underway.
“Half of our membership is now middle-aged at 45-plus, and 22 per cent are over age 55!” he says.
“Every region of B.C. shows growing demand,” Leech concludes. “New two-year technology diploma programs are still needed in the north and central B.C. However, young people are investing to travel so they can earn the necessary tech qualifications.”
It would appear their investment is a smart move, as it will result in a broad range of career opportunities. Industries in all regions of B.C. support programs for local trainees to fill engineering and applied science technologist, technician and technical specialist positions.