Recognized as one of BC's Top Employers (2023):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 13, 2023)
Here are some of the reasons why Vancouver Community College / VCC was selected as one of BC's Top Employers (2023):
- Vancouver Community College offers a minimum of 3.4 weeks of vacation to start (varying by employee group) and provides additional paid time off during the winter holidays
- Vancouver Community College offers coverage for mental health practitioners as part of its benefits plan (up to $1,200 annually) and recently established a mental health and well-being steering committee
- Vancouver Community College helps employees plan for the future with retirement planning assistance services along with generous contributions to a defined benefit pension plan
VCC employees share a sense of purpose
Karen-Jane Hills, instructor and department head of the College and Career Access Department, has worked with Vancouver Community College (VCC) for 33 years and she still loves to come to work every day.
“No matter where you work here, whether as faculty, program assistants, in food services or as president of the college, we all work together to help students reach their education, career and personal goals,” says Hills. “I started as a tutor in The Learning Centre and the college doesn’t feel top down, no matter who you are.”
VCC offers academic, cultural, and social environments that inspire relevant real-world training. The college’s connections to industry ensure that students have direct access to employers, while the model of access and partnerships across the postsecondary sector helps students reach their goals at any stage of their educational journey.
“VCC’s Strategic Innovation Plan is inclusive to all and provides a shared sense of purpose,” says David Wells, vice-president, academic and applied research. “We have a vision of what we want our organization to be and are using it intentionally to get us there.”
The plan includes work to empower people, create an inclusive culture, engage communities and more. Hills says that people at VCC are open and willing to listen. Coming back from the pandemic, she has the flexibility to make decisions that are best for her department.
“In order to change how they do things, department heads must show how they can fulfill VCC’s obligation to students in a different way,” says Wells.
Leaders are open to alternative action when it can be shown to benefit students, employees or the college overall. As pandemic restrictions began to be lifted, instead of mandating a return to full in-person schedules, an operational review was conducted to develop a hybrid work environment. In addition, Wells worked with faculty to understand which courses were best delivered online or blended, in order to enhance the student experience.
And people are open to exploring ideas, says Hills, who is part of a wellness team. They began with a wellness idea for September, called “Step-tember,” to have employees trace their steps and see how far they make it across Canada. December was “Destressember,” and the team advertised events to promote mental and physical health through a digital newsletter.
As an educational institution, VCC supports opportunities for development. Hills was able to get some funding and time off to do a master’s degree and is now working on her PhD. The college provides support for conferences, professional development and graduate degrees, as well as innovation funds for faculty to take on work to improve their program in areas such as digital delivery or equity, diversity and inclusion.
There is also a strong culture of providing internal opportunities such as interim assignments, special project work, professional currency leaves, and the mentor/mentee program available to employees across the college.
VCC offers a different model than most post-secondary institutions, with a diversity of programs including upgrading, diplomas and internationally recognized degrees – and a more diverse student population. Many of the students are adults returning to finish high school or upgrade their marks so they can enter a particular program. VCC also has the highest number of students who identify as Indigenous among colleges in the Lower Mainland.
“We have taken on aspects of post-secondary education that some others have vacated,” says Wells. “The community aspect, whether online or in-person, is important to us.”