VIU Cowichan offering three free programs

Line cook. Custodian. Security guard.

All jobs that often show up in the classifieds or the online help-wanted sites.

And you can train for them for free, if you get a move on and apply.

It’s all happening because Vancouver Island University received funding last week from the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training.

According to VIU communications officer Marilyn Assaf, even students who are employed in poorly paid jobs should apply.

“These are for people in the community.

We’re very excited because the tuition is completely free. They’re hoping to fill all of these intakes because these are programs for people who are unemployed or who are in jobs that maybe don’t pay very much and want to take advantage of free training to improve their employment prospects,” she said.

In Cowichan, the first one begins on Oct. 27, a three week security worker program.

“It could help in employment as a security guard or maybe a private investigator,” she said.

The second Cowichan one, which starts Nov. 3, is a 13-week intro to culinary arts.

The last one being offered in Cowichan begins Jan. 5 and is called building services worker.

“This is for a job like a custodian,” Assaf said.

A happy Susan Allen, manager of professional development and training at VIU, said it’s timely, too.

“This is for the under-employed and the unemployed. It’s for people who didn’t think

they had the capacity to go back to school and get training for a job that they want. That’s what’s exciting about it. These are labour market jobs.”

Allen said there are opportunities aplenty for people taking a course like the 13-week culinary training program.

“They will come out of it with entry-level front line cook/worker qualifications, which is exciting,” she said.

You see ads all the time for those jobs.

“That’s exactly why we did this,” Allen said. “We looked at the jobs in the market place that were required in labour market research and we found those were the ones, especially on Vancouver Island, that we felt would best meet the labour market demand.”

There are three courses offered at the Cowichan campus.

“The Building Service Worker takes 16; Security Training is 12 and the introduction to Culinary is 16 participants,” Allen said.

People who are interested need to contact VIU in Nanaimo to sign up right away, even if they want to take courses at the Cowichan campus, she said.

“We take applications and then interview everyone because we usually have more applications than we have seats,” she said.

To register, go to “They should contact us in Nanaimo by faxing in their application straight to us. Once we do the interviews, they’ll find out if they were accepted or not. They have to meet the government criteria and from there they have this real opportunity to get some incredible training at no cost,” Allen said.

The criteria are fairly simple. “They have to be 19 or over, they have to be Canadian citizens or legally able to work in Canada if they are a landed immigrant, and they can’t have been on EI for the last three years or maternity EI for the last five years.”

There are also other criteria depending on the program.

The cost of tuition and books is covered, once it is decided that the student meets eligibility requirements.

Then it’s full speed ahead towards a new career.