Squamish campus of Capilano College designated tourism centre 

The Squamish campus of Capilano College will become the province’s new Centre for Leadership and Innovation in Tourism.

The provincial government made the announcement this week while also announcing the creation of a new consortium that will work to build up tourism and hospitality training programs in preparation for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

In addition to Capilano College’s designation, Vancouver Community College was designated the new Centre for Leadership and Innovation in Hospitality.

The new group, the B.C. Tourism and Hospitality Education and Training Consortium, will have 15 members, and focus on the development and expansion of programs at Capilano College and Vancouver Community College. The consortium will foster co-operation and planning among institutions, industry and government to ensure the education and training requirements of the tourism and hospitality industries are met.

The province announced earlier this year it would create a number of centres for leadership and innovation in strategic industries to ensure a skilled workforce is in place for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"Our post-secondary institutions are fostering innovative training to meet the demand for skilled workers to support the revitalized tourism and hospitality sector," said North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Katherine Whittred. "By establish two hospitality and tourism centres for leadership and innovation, we’ll ensure we have people with the right skills so that British Columbia can provide world-class service during the 2010 Winter Games and beyond."

In addition to the creation of the consortium, the government will invest $1.2 million into post-secondary institutions around the province that offer hospitality and tourism training.

"Tourism is one of B.C.’s major economic drivers, directly and indirectly employing 266,000 British Columbians," said Dan Jarvis, the MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour. "Government’s Spirit of 2010 Tourism Strategy recognizes the importance of nurturing a skilled tourism work force. By investing in this growing industry, we will be able to meet the training needs of 2010 and contribute to a strong and vibrant economy."

The consortium goals are:

• Facilitating communication and planning among education institutions, industry and government to ensure the education and training requirements of tourism and hospitality are met;

• Ensuring that there is an overarching strategic direction for hospitality and tourism programs;

• Developing new approaches to training for the tourism and hospitality sectors, and sharing them with other institutions;

• Ensuring that programs are available across the province, and ensuring these programs meet industry needs.

The membership of the B.C. Tourism and Hospitality Education and Training Consortium will include six industry representatives, including Whistler-Blackcomb employee experience director Kirby Brown; six representatives from the education sector; and three representatives from the provincial government.

The B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association applauded the government’s announcement.

"With the B.C. economy gaining momentum, the announcement couldn’t come at a better time," said Geoffrey Howes, chair of the BCRFA.

"It is estimated that 84,000 new job opportunities will be created across B.C.’s hospitality sector leading up to the 2010 Games and beyond.

"Education and training are critical elements of the hospitality industry’s growth strategy. Hospitality employers need to play a part in program delivery to match training and skill-sets with the requirements of the workplace."

The tourism and hospitality industry is already working to increase First Nations involvement through a new 18-month diploma program at Capilano College in Squamish. The First Nations Tourism Management Co-operative Diploma program opened up to its first 34 students in March.

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