kálax-ay Sunshine Coast campus introduces Accounting Assistant program

CapU responds to growing local interest in business and accounting

Jessica Lio // Online Editor

Photo: Students participate in a workshop at Capilano University’s kálax-ay Sunshine Coast campus. Photo c/o Tae Hoon Kim

Capilano University’s kálax-ay Sunshine Coast campus is preparing to introduce an Accounting Assistant Certificate program for the first time in the spring. Applications for the new program are now open, and according to program convenor Lydia Watson, the University is looking to enroll between 15 and 20 students in the first cohort, beginning in 2018.

“We do a lot of work in the community to find out what the educational needs are, and this is something that we’ve heard people asking for,” explained Watson, adding that the demand had been clear for the past 10 months.

The kálax-ay Sunshine Coast campus has enrolled business administration students for the past 20 years. With a number of recent graduates from the program and local business owners expressing interest in learning more about accounting, the University took steps to introduce a program that mirrored the Accounting Assistant curriculum offered at the North Vancouver campus.

Watson also heard from a number of “non-traditional” students who are over the age of 35 and looking to start a new career. Many of them were ready to enroll in a program that would equip them with the skills they need to look for new work opportunities in less than two years.

After consulting with community members and current students, the campus developed a delivery model that would allow students to balance coursework with their jobs and family responsibilities. “What we heard loud and clear was ‘we want this to be evenings and delivered on a part-time format,’ so we worked with that,” said Watson.

Students will attend classes two evenings per week for a total of six hours in the classroom, and some of the course material will be delivered online. This program structure, which features three courses each term, also allows students to apply and qualify for financial aid.

The new program will equip students with the business writing and interpersonal communication skills to thrive in business environments. It will also teach the practical knowledge of business computer applications and popular software such as Quickbooks and Sage 50, which allow users to keep basic accounting records, send invoices and track a company’s cash flow. Upon completion, students will be able to apply for entry-level accounting and bookkeeping positions.

The Sunshine Coast is seeing a trend of burgeoning interest in entrepreneurship, and this program comes at a suitable time for locals who are ready to take the necessary steps toward developing the knowledge that will allow them to make informed business decisions.

Watson also expressed that applicants are not required to have prior business or accounting experience. “As long as [applicants] have graduated from high school and attended one of our information sessions, those are the only requirements for the program,” she said.

In total, the program spans four consecutive semesters and features a two-week work practicum at the end, preparing students to enter their chosen fields. “We’ve had some interest from the Sunshine Coast Regional District and the District of Sechelt, and we hope to also connect with small businesses,” Watson added. Given the region’s strong tourism industry, she believes both local businesses and students will benefit from practicum placements, which the first crop of students entering the program will complete in Summer 2019.

With the University in the midst of conducting an environmental scan to determine educational priorities for the kálax-ay Sunshine Coast campus, the successful introduction of the Accounting Assistant program could mark a new direction of growth for the changing community. Although the new program is not yet underway, Watson is optimistic that students will go on to work in their chosen industries, bolstering the local economy on the Sunshine Coast.

Jessica Lio

Online Editor

avid hickory stick enthusiast. dogless. breakin' toes since 2008.

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