They’re getting ready to cook up a storm at Coast Mountain College’s (CMTN) Smithers campus.
The school is getting two new additions to a growing list of dual-credit courses the college offers to high school students looking to dip their feet into certain industries.
The school will be offering the Level 1 Professional Cook Apprenticeship course and the Healthcare Assistant program starting in February.
Dr. Titi Kunkel, dean of instruction, university credits, sciences and humanities at CMTN’s Smithers campus said the college is trying to move toward offering more of these dual-credit style programs to give high school students as much of a chance as possible to try out various potential career paths before graduating.
Kunkel explains the program really is a two-for-one for participating students in terms of the credits they receive.
“With dual credit a student in high school will get credit for a course with Coast Mountain at the college … and then they’ll also get a credit in the high school system.”
Kunkel explains that even if a student decides they want to go down a different educational path, the credits they receive will be accessible to them throughout their post-secondary career.
“They’re what I would term as being sort of like ‘live’ sort of credits because you can transfer to [another] post-secondary institution.”
The college already offers a range of dual-credit courses to students, including their Intro to Health course, an optional precursor to the aforementioned Healthcare Assistant program.
Kunkel expressed excitement at the campus’ ability to offer both courses.
As part of the professional cook course, the first in a set of three required to meet national Red Seal cook standards, the college will be loading a mobile classroom and shipping it from Terrace.
That space will act as an authentic culinary environment for students, with the ability to open up to approximately 1,000 square metres of space.
“It’s a self contained unit [and] is such that you can take it to wherever your classroom location is, so it’s not tied to a campus or a building,” Kunkel said.
Kunkel hopes enough people take the program to help address a local shortage of culinary staff at restaurants.
The Healthcare Assistant program is especially beneficial for people who have taken CMTN’s Intro to Health program and are looking to continue along that path, she said.
“[If they] want to continue in the health field then they can literally go into the Healthcare Assistant program [which] enables them to work in health care so literally working alongside professionals.
“After they’ve done so many hours in the field then they can come back and go into [the next level up] which would be something like the access to practical nursing [program] and then from there they can go into the nursing program.”
She said the college has been trying to move toward offering more dual-credit courses in recent years and the school district has been very receptive.
“I’ve spent some time talking with the principal and school superintendent and they love this idea,” she said.
“They actually make space within their schedule for students to be able to do this so they are very supportive of it. They love the fact that the students can actually get the [college] credit while they’re still in high school.”
Even if a student decides not to pursue a particular field of study or program, Kunkel said dual-credit courses can give them the qualifications they need to set them along their career path once they complete their secondary education.
She said another element to the program’s success is that when attending CMTN in a dual-credit capacity you are a student of both institutions.
“You’re getting support on both sides and it’s an easier transition into post-secondary,” Kunkel said.
Kunkel ended by encouraging interested students to reach out to their school councillors if they are interested in learning more about the various dual-credit programs CMTN offers.
“If I was in high school I certainly would take dual-credit courses.”