Vancouver Community College (VCC) was pleased to welcome The Honourable Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and The Honourable Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to the Broadway campus today. Following a classroom tour, Minister Mark announced $1.5 million in funding for B.C. post-secondary institutions to develop career programs for students living with disabilities.
“Today’s announcement is about students at the centre,” said Minister Mark in her speech to over 100 VCC students, faculty, and disability advocates in attendance. “We have to break down barriers, open up doors, and create opportunities and a sense of belonging for people to succeed and thrive.”
VCC’s funding will include $75,000 for a pilot program called Access to Baking and Kitchen Careers that will provide students on the autism spectrum with specialized training for in-demand jobs and lasting employment. “This accessibility funding will change the lives of students across the province,” said VCC president and CEO Peter Nunoda.
Representing VCC students with disabilities at today's announcement was Russell Jang, a recent graduate of Food Service Careers, one of VCC’s existing Community and Career Education (CACE) programs. As part of the program, Russell completed a practicum placement at Tacofino Restaurants, where he now works full-time as a prep cook.
Tacofino hosts an ongoing rotation of VCC practicum students and has hired a total of five CACE graduates thus far. Human resources manager Taylor Chobotiuk has nothing but praise for the diversity that these students bring to their kitchens. “This relationship is so meaningful to all of us,” he says. “Everyone in the world has a different way of learning, and we try to adapt to each individual we hire. For myself and for our chefs, we’ve gone from being managers to being teachers, and that’s a really great perspective to have.”
Left: Hon. Shane Simpson, Dr. Peter Nunoda, Hon. Melanie Mark, Elder Deanna George, and students
Right: Russell Jang and Taylor Chobotiuk