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Camosun's revolutionary program tops at ACCC national conference

June 5, 2012

Members of the E-PPRENTICE design team: Nick Versteeg of DV Cuisine, Jen, Gilbert, and Megan Moore

Members of the E-PPRENTICE design team: Nick Versteeg of DV Cuisine, Jen, Gilbert, and Megan Moore

Camosun College's trail-blazing program, E-PPRENTICE Flexible Learning for Professional Cook Training, received the Association of Canadian Community Colleges’ 2012 Gold Program Excellence Award at a national conference held in Halifax, May 29. College president Kathryn Laurin accompanied principle instructional designer Jen Stein to the Halifax conference to accept the award on behalf of Camosun.

Camosun was recognized for its innovative distance delivery of the Professional Cook apprenticeship program, signalling a possible revolution in how trades training is delivered in British Columbia. "The most powerful thing about this program is the integration of practical and technical training that connects geographically dispersed learners in the workplace with master teachers at Camosun," says Stein. "The result is a dynamic virtual learning community unique to the E-PPRENTICE experience. Because the technical training takes place over a period of months instead of intensive six-week class-bound sessions—the norm for traditional trades training—students have the time to learn and apply new skills in the workplace, under the guidance of sponsor employers. Ultimately, this program helps apprentices truly engage with their learning."

Another benefit of the E-PPRENTICE learning model is that learners continue to live and work in their home community throughout their apprenticeship, benefitting all the while from the supports of their learning community. "Traditional apprenticeship programs require students to suspend their employment and, in some cases, leave their home communities to attend the three or four mandatory six-week study sessions at a certified training college. This can be costly and disruptive, forcing some students to bypass the opportunity of credentialed training and Red Seal designation," says Gilbert Noussitou, Professional Cook program chair. "The E-PPRENTICE program uses modern distance learning techniques, supplemented by professional videos that students can watch as many times as they need to gain proficiency in difficult techniques." The final benefit is to sponsor employers who can count on their apprenticeship employees to remain at work during their study period, and contribute to the business with new skills and knowledge. This makes staffing and business processes smoother, and actually becomes an incentive to employers to sponsor an apprentice.

Noussitou and Stein credit an extensive development team at Camosun for the planning and successful implementation of this novel apprenticeship training model, and the Industry Training Authority and BC’s Labour Market Agreement for funding. "It was a pretty gutsy proposal that wouldn't have succeeded without the support of the college," says Noussitou. "The ACCC recognition definitely validates all the long hours of hard work, much of which took place late at night and through the weekends."

About the E-PPRENTICE program

In May 2009, Camosun College was awarded a provincial contract to develop and pilot an E-PPRENTICE for Professional Cooks Training program. The impetus for this development was in response to A Strategy for the Expansion of Flexible Learning in the Trades in British Columbia that was commissioned by the Industry Training Authority of B.C.

The pilot for the program successfully launched Professional Cook (PC)-1 in April 2010, PC-2 in January 2011 and PC-3 in November 2011. Although three e-pprentices withdrew from the program for personal reasons, there was a 100% success rate of E-PPRENTICES who completed the technical training, practical assessment and the Industry Training Authority written Certificate of Qualification exams.

Last updated: June 5, 2012 10:59 am

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