Posted on March 13, 2023

Building capacity in healthcare

Sayo Yazumi supportive care assistant student


Sayo Yazumi arrived in Canada from Japan 12 years ago. Although her background was in accounting and finance, she found it difficult to find this type of work due to her language levels and lack of Canadian certification.

Eventually, Sayo found work as a cashier, but due to COVID, she was laid off from her job, which led her to a new career path in healthcare.  

When researching her options for entering the healthcare field, Sayo found the Supportive Care Assistant (SCA) program offered by Vancouver Community College (VCC) in partnership with Colleges and Institutes Canada. This tuition-free skills training program aims to build capacity in long term care by providing students with exposure to the healthcare field through virtual training and a paid community-based work experience placement. Funding for this program is provided by the Government of Canada through Employment and Social Development Canada.  

“I didn’t have experience in healthcare,” Sayo says, “so the SCA program seemed like a nice way to explore the field.”

As part of the SCA program, Sayo completed a 280-hour paid work placement with a home care employer. Through this experience, she confirmed that healthcare was a good career fit, prompting her to continue her education by applying to VCC’s health care assistant program. 

Currently, Sayo is one of several SCA graduates who have continued their education through the health care assistant program at VCC. As a successful graduate of the SCA program, Sayo also received a $5,000 laddering stipend from Colleges and Institutes Canada to cover costs while taking the health care assistant program. 

Lisa Beveridge, Department Head of Continuing Care at VCC, appreciates how the SCA program prepares students. She says, “The SCA program is a great model as students gain exposure to healthcare through an immersive work placement experience. This way, students can determine if healthcare is a good fit for them before committing to the health care assistant program.”

Beveridge adds, “The $5,000 stipend to take the health care assistant program is a significant asset as it removes barriers to education by alleviating some of the financial stress.”

Now looking back on her experience in the SCA program, Sayo says, “This program builds a bridge to opportunities in the healthcare field. You don’t know if you would like to work in healthcare until you try. The SCA program prepares your mind for what it will be like.” As Sayo thinks about her future, she adds, “I’m looking forward to building a career in healthcare.”

VCC’s Partnership Development Office coordinates the SCA program at VCC as well as many other skills training programs aimed at building pathways to education and the labour market. For VCC’s SCA program, 40 per cent of the graduates have continued with further healthcare education. If your organization is interested in partnering on a future project, please contact