VIU RELEASE: 2012/119
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2012
NANAIMO, BC - Vancouver Island University (VIU) is committed to working to address Canada’s skills crisis by training and educating leaders of tomorrow. That was the message from VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson in a luncheon address to the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce today.
Referring to a September 24 report from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce called, “Canada’s skills crisis: what we heard”, Nilson said VIU is working to address the key recommendations in this paper, by providing opportunities for workers to “upskill” by continually upgrading their skills and professional development, and by connecting educators with employers to balance supply with demand for skilled trades and highly-skilled occupations.
The report also called on governments and communities to ensure immigration policy is aligned with local labour markets and employers' needs, and focus education and workforce development on Aboriginal peoples, especially in the West and the territories where the economic and social opportunities and risks are greatest for this population.
“This report is timely,” said Nilson. “You couldn’t find a better description of the challenges and opportunities that face an institution such as VIU. It also describes how we are connecting with Nanaimo and all of the communities we serve.”
Nilson said VIU is also addressing the skills shortage by taking a leading role with the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce through its “Successful Cities” action plan, released in April.
“The action plan provides an excellent framework for not only building the future of this city, but also for the basis of the Chamber’s partnership with VIU,” Nilson said.
Nilson said VIU is committed to working with the Chamber, School Districts and the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance to identify relevant programs intended to keep students in Nanaimo, or on Vancouver Island.
He said the partners must also encourage investment in campus infrastructure and new programming to ensure that VIU is recognized as one of BC’s most successful regional teaching universities, and support the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation to attract bright young minds with a variety of skill sets to work in Nanaimo.
As a regionally-based, teaching university, Nilson said VIU serves the needs of an increasing diverse student body that includes Aboriginal students, international students, mid-career students, and new immigrant students.
“VIU is also actively engaging our Aboriginal partners in the programs we offer and the services we provide to Indigenous students,” Nilson said. “We have an excellent and productive relationship with Chief Doug White and the Snuneymuxw First Nation, along with the many Coast Salish communities on the Island and the Sunshine Coast.”
Nilson also said VIU is helping “internationalize” Nanaimo and area communities by attracting hundreds of international students attract here each year to VIU and the Malaspina High School. Many of these students live in “home-stay” with families throughout the region, and choose to stay here after they complete their studies.
“This not only helps to address our need for more immigrants, but helps to strengthen the diverse character of our community as well,” Nilson said.
Nilson invited Chamber members and the entire community to continue to support VIU and its students. In coming months, he said VIU will seek community input to learn how the University can better serve the needs of the community and step-up fundraising efforts for student scholarships and bursaries, and for new buildings including a new Health and Science Centre and Sport and Wellness Centre.
“We want to endure we remain open and accessible to everyone who aspires to a post-secondary education,” he said. “This is why we need generous support from individuals and organizations in our community who share our values.”
Marilyn Assaf, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University P:250.740.6559 E: Marilyn.Assaf@viu.ca
To read the Chamber report: website – www.chamber.ca. For more on VIU: www.viu.ca ? Key Facts About Vancouver Island University:
• VIU has grown to 18,000 students on four campuses – Parksville, Cowichan, Powell River and the main campus in Nanaimo.
• The University hosts more than 1600 international students from 83 countries around the world, more than 2000 First Nations and Metis students, and employs more than 2000 faculty and staff who live, learn, teach and contribute to local communities.
• With a payroll of over $70 million and a total annual budget of $120 million, VIU is a significant contributor to all of the local economies and communities along the coast.
• Of the annual budget, less than 48 percent comes from the Province. This is down from 65 percent 15 years ago, and over 80 percent in 1982.
• In the last few years, through a combination of federal and provincial funding and advancement funds, VIU is delivering on its Nanaimo Master Campus Plan – which provides an outline and overview of campus development over the next 25-40 years. This includes the Aboriginal gathering place and International Centre for Sturgeon Studies, as well as improvements to regional campuses in Cowichan and Powell River, and the Centre for Shellfish Research/Deep Bay Field Station.
• VIU remains focused on its academic and teaching strengths and successes – particularly in the areas of international programs, Aboriginal programs and learning, leading-edge coastal resource management and our trades, technology and technical programs.
• Moving forward VIU is working with its Foundation to support students and the learning environment with new and renewed teaching facilities such as a Health and Science Centre, a Sport and Wellness Centre, as well as more scholarships and bursaries.