Want to become a gemologist? VCC Continuing Studies can show the way

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      Vancouver Community College is well known for its culinary, automotive, and nursing programs. However, many don’t realize that it offers more than 40 certificate and diploma programs through VCC Continuing Studies.

      The dean of continuing studies, Gordon McIvor, told the Straight by phone that there are diplomas available in everything from gemology to medical-device reprocessing to early childhood care and education.

      The full-time gemology program isn’t cheap—according to McIvor, it costs about $9,000—but he said it can enable people to find employment as appraisers or in other areas in the jewellery industry. The program runs from April to August.

      McIvor recalled attending a recent gemology graduation ceremony where most of the people were in their 40s and 50s. “These are people who are very established and have large social connections,” he said.

      It’s the only program of its kind in Western Canada and it attracts many entrepreneurs, as well as students from around the world. They learn such skills as how to identify authentic and fake jade and how to count carats in precious gems.

      McIvor is also enthusiastic about VCC’s program for training medical device–reprocessing technicians. They ensure that reusable utensils used by dentists, doctors, and other medical practitioners are sterilized.

      The program is offered every February and September. “It costs about $8,000 or $9,000, but 90 percent of the students get jobs,” McIvor said.

      The MDRT program includes eight weeks of classroom instruction followed by practicums in hospitals and other health-care settings. “Often when things work out really well, they get hired on the spot as soon as their program is finished,” he added.

      A third program he highlighted, early childhood care and education, leads to becoming a licensed child-care worker.

      “It’s not just about working in a daycare centre,” McIvor emphasized. “There are way more opportunities. Some people focus on storytelling or infant toddlers or special-needs children. Music therapy comes into play. People can have other interests that they can bring to an early childhood environment and provide a unique service.”

      McIvor also noted that VCC has renewed its fashion-design program to meet the changing expectations of employers in the apparel industry. “They require our graduates to be comfortable with social media and to understand marketing and merchandising,” he said. “It’s not just patterns anymore. Vancouver is a world leader in technical apparel.”