College of the Rockies launches first-ever Diploma Program in Invermere

There are 24 spots available in the first cohort of the diploma program, with courses beginning April 30, 2018.

College of the Rockies Invermere sign.

The Hospitality Management program has been designed to accommodate the peak tourist season, with the fall semester starting in late September so students don't have to leave their summer jobs. — Photo courtesy College of the Rockies/Invermere

College of the Rockies recently announced that it will begin offering a two-year diploma co-op program at its Invermere campus for students interested in a career in hospitality management. This is the first time that a two-year diploma has been offered in Invermere.

The Hospitality Management diploma program was developed in direct response to needs voiced during community and industry consultations in Invermere. All aspects of the program – from initial concept through to curriculum choices and delivery model – have been developed based on in-depth feedback and discussions with local industry and the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“During consultation, we heard overwhelmingly that employers are challenged by labour shortages as well as high turnover, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sector,” says Leah Bradish, Director, Regional Campuses at College of the Rockies. “Tourism and hospitality is one of the region’s largest economic drivers. The Hospitality Management diploma program will provide essential skilled workers for the region, while giving students the education and work experience they need to succeed.”

There are 24 spots available in the first cohort of the diploma program. Registration opened January 24, with courses beginning April 30, 2018.

Students in the two-year program will complete 63 credits, including a 500-hour paid co-op work placement. Study areas include accounting, economics, business communications, marketing, Hospitality HR and law, and industry-specific training such as food and beverage service and management, rooms and front desk management as well as required certifications in FoodSafe and ServingItRight.

As a result of close collaboration with local employers, the Hospitality Management program has been uniquely built to meet the needs of industry. Courses were designed to enable students to work part-time throughout their studies, and full time during the Christmas and summer breaks, ensuring a consistent source of much-needed skilled labour.

The program schedule has been adjusted to accommodate the peak tourism season, with the Fall semester starting in late September so that students don’t have to leave their summer jobs with industry partners to return to studies. A paid co-op work-study placement offers real-life, hands on learning and the opportunity for students to earn as they learn.

In addition to providing a direct pathway to employment, the two-year co-op diploma program provides graduates with transfer credit towards a hospitality management degree program at other institutions.

The Hospitality Management program is open to both domestic and international students.  The majority of students in the first program intake will likely be international students, reflecting a growing demand for workers that can’t be satisfied by the region’s existing labour pool, and a high-level of interest in tourism and hospitality training among international students.

“A full-time program focused on our area’s key industry of tourism will assist local companies to fill open positions and grow to meet the increasing demand from visitors to our beautiful communities,” said Julie Lareau, General Manager for True Key Hotels & Resorts at Bighorn Meadows Resort. “We welcome the students attending this program and see this as a win-win for industry and students.”

“The response from industry so far has been tremendous,” adds Bradish. “Many employers are offering to provide accommodation in exchange for work placement, and industry partners are stepping up to offer support with transportation and other logistics. In the end, we expect to have more offers for work placements than we have students.”

For more information on the Hospitality Management Diploma program at College of the Rockies, please visit cotr.ca/Hospitality-Management or contact Michelle Taylor, campus Manager Invermere, at 250-342-3210.

Industry Snapshot

In 2016, College of the Rockies conducted an in-depth research and feasibility study to understand industry need and explore the viability of a tourism and hospitality program in the Columbia Valley. Findings included:

  • 53% of employers surveyed expect their full-time hiring needs to increase, 62% projected an increase in the number of part time roles, and 71% see seasonal roles continuing to grow within their organizations.
  • 79% of employers had difficulties filling jobs in the past 2 years, with the highest labour shortages in Food & Beverage, Guest Services, and Accommodation Services positions.
  • The key barriers to employers filling positions include seasonality of industry, lack of applicants, lack of applicants with industry skills and shortage of available housing.

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