Demand for aquaculture technicians prompts new certificate program
North Island College (NIC) in British Columbia is launching a new Aquaculture Technician certificate in January 2019. The program is designed to equip students with technical skills to work with a variety of species in BC’s growing aquaculture industry.
The four-month certificate is the first of two new aquaculture offerings at NIC, developed in response to an industry call for workers with broader field skills.
“We heard from industry about the need for more advanced technician training and education to fill current and projected vacancies,” said Cheryl O’Connell, NIC’s dean of trades and technical programs. “This new certificate prepares students for entry-level positions and provides an excellent foundation for further studies.”
NIC has offered Level 1 Aquaculture Technician Training since 2014. The new certificate includes Technician Level 1 training, with an updated curriculum, more occupational health and safety training and the ability to ladder into BC’s first advanced production-training program, the Aquaculture Technician diploma, scheduled to begin in Fall 2019.
Renowned aquaculture researcher and educator, Dr Jesse Ronquillo, developed the programs’ curriculum in consultation with the BC Shellfish Growers Association and the BC Salmon Farmers Association.
“The growing interest in aquaculture around the world is creating a need for technical training and education,” said Ronquillo. “These programs prepare students for a range of industry jobs, from hatchery to farm-site work. The certificate trains students in a variety of aquaculture species including finfish, shellfish and algal production techniques.”
Both aquaculture programs will take place at NIC’s Campbell River campus, now undergoing a $17.6-million expansion and renovation. "The planned facility will enable students to raise a variety of species through various development stages,” said Ronquillo.
Farmed salmon is BC’s top exported agrifood and seafood commodity, contributing $1.5 billion towards the BC economy between 2013 and 2016. Geoduck clam exports rose 50 percent from 2016 to 2017 and oyster exports have increased annually since 2010, data from BC Agriculture and Seafood Statistics 2017 show.