Vancouver Community College expands diploma offerings as it earns Red Seal for hairstyling training

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      For more than 50 years, Vancouver Community College has been one of the city’s foremost career-training sites, educating multitudes of students in fields ranging from health sciences to hospitality to fashion design. Earlier this year, it added two new diplomas in the areas of computer-aided drafting (CAD) and building-information modelling (BIM).

      One offers this credential to people who graduate from the CAD and BIM architectural-technician program; the other diploma is for CAD and BIM civil-structural-technician grads. The next intake of students will take place in January.

      Brett Griffiths, VCC dean of trades, technology, and design, told the Straight by phone that each is a full-time day program lasting two years. Those who have already passed the 10-month certificate programs in these areas can apply these credits toward the diploma.

      So what types of jobs would be available for graduates?

      “Those would be working with companies that specialize in BIM,” Griffiths said. “So they would be working on bigger-scale projects at a higher level that would incorporate drafters from those different specializations.”

      Future employers for these students could include consulting engineering and architectural firms, fabrication and development companies, and companies retained for government projects, including highways and bridges.

      When asked what attributes will help a student succeed, Griffiths replied: “Have a fairly decent background in math and physics.” He also said it helps to have strong communication skills because graduates will be working in team-based environments. And it doesn’t hurt to have some experience in construction.

      According to Griffiths, building-information modelling involves overlaying civil-structural designs with architectural designs in 3-D. This provides a more complete picture of what a building will look like.

      Members of a program advisory committee informed VCC officials that BIM technologies are becoming more common. So it made sense to Griffiths to offer students an opportunity to learn these skills.

      “That’s one of our goals here: to ensure people are…going to be ready for employment when they leave here,” he said. “So, really, it came from industry.”

      These aren’t the only relatively new diploma programs in the area of design at VCC. The visual-communications-design diploma, which was launched earlier this year, is open to applicants who have obtained a design certificate in this area or in digital graphics at the college.

      It’s also open to those who have a certificate, diploma, or degree equivalent in graphic design from another recognized institution in Canada or abroad. Applicants must present a portfolio of work in order to participate in the interview process.

      Griffiths said the new diploma focuses a great deal of attention on UX, UI, and website design. Students develop projects that create solutions for clients, and the next intake is in January.

      “They do photography work,” Griffiths said of the students. “They do layouts. They do proofing. They do paper-based projects as well as digital projects.”

      Griffiths also expressed pride in VCC’s apprenticeship training for hairstylists. It was recently approved as a Red Seal program, which is a Canadian standard for excellence in the skilled trades.

      “Our first intake for the apprenticeship program for the Red Seal program will be in January,” he said.

      The transportation trades are also part of Griffiths’s responsibilities. This makes sense, given that he began working at VCC in the automotive-service-technician program.

      He pointed out that there has been a huge increase in demand in the transportation trades, so he advised anyone interested in these areas to apply early. However, one area—collision and refinishing—still has openings, and according to the dean, positions in this field offer very good pay.

      “There are tons of jobs out there and industry is always coming to us looking for apprentices in the collision and refinishing,” Griffiths said. “One of our recent grads actually landed a job with the Mercedes-Benz group.”