B.C. beefs up elder care training support

Province needs 1,500 graduates to meet current staffing needs

With an aging population, there is an increased demand for elder-care workers. In British Columbia, more than 1,500 qualified graduates are needed immediately to staff new and existing long-term care and assisted living beds as well as home care clients.

To help meet that demand, B.C. is increasing efforts to encourage more students to trains residential care aides and home support workers.

The provincial government has increased training programs and financial support for students and, along with Vancouver Island Health, Fraser Health and 20 educational institutions, it has launched a $160,000 marketing and awareness campaign called BC Cares.

"We've expanded training programs for home support and residential care aides so caring people who want to enter this field will be able to qualify for stable, meaningful jobs," said Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development Murray Coell.

"We've also introduced a loan forgiveness program for these students that can offset their education costs by as much as $2,500."

The industry needs to get the message out to students that there has never been a better time to start a career in senior health care, said Craig Hebert, dean of development and access training at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek, B.C.

"Graduates of these programs study for about one year, sometimes less, will have their pick of jobs in a number of service environments and can advance relatively quickly to the nursing profession," he said.

The BC Cares enrolment strategy features radio and newspaper advertising, brochure distribution, promotions at job fairs and access to a comprehensive website. Further information is available online at www.bccares.ca.

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