The Business + Higher Education Roundtable and Business Council of Canada recently published a report on worker upskilling and reskilling in Canada which is based on the findings of their Skills Working Group and the results of BHER’s 2022 Skills Survey. The report authors discuss common upskilling partners, the common attributes of these activities, and the challenges and barriers faced by these initiatives. In the recommendations, the authors encourage postsecondary institutions to more deeply engage with industry partners. “Industry partners aren’t always sure who to talk to or when and may have a perception that PSIs aren’t well-suited for agile, responsive programming,” note the authors. “PSIs must recognize and proactively communicate the resources, services, and value they provide to support upskilling and reskilling efforts.”
Postsecondary institutions in Ontario are encouraging students to be respectful during St Patrick’s Day celebrations this year. In St Catharines, Brock University, Brock University Students’ Union, Niagara Regional Police Service, and the local municipalities are working together to promote responsible and respectful celebrations in neighbourhoods with large student populations. Queen’s University has launched a social media campaign about building community and is preparing for the weekend with initiatives such as substance-free events and safe partygoer kits. Carleton University has offered tips to students to help them celebrate safely, encourage a culture of consent, and be a good neighbour. McMaster University is encouraging students to avoid large or disruptive gatherings and is paying for additional police officers to patrol neighbourhoods around the university on St Patrick’s Day.
As demand for skilled trades workers soars, some are questioning how to best get students into the skilled trades. CBC reports that British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario have each made policy and funding decisions that will increase the number of skilled trade workers, but several barriers remain that will prevent additional skills trades training from taking place. These include a lack of educators—as experienced journeypersons must complete additional teaching training and face a significant pay cut if they choose to become educators—and low student and teacher awareness of the opportunities in the trades. Camosun College instructor Mike Bocsik also commented on the importance of ongoing training in the trades as technology advances and noted that there are more opportunities for the trades and education sectors to collaborate on learning opportunities for students.
Several private career colleges in BC have come under scrutiny in a pair of articles from CBC and the Vancouver Sun. International students who had previously enrolled at Vancouver Career College, Granville College, and Pacific Link College spoke to journalists about their experiences with poor instructional quality, classes being cancelled, and/or being charged unusual or unexpected fees when attempting to transfer out of the college. Students also shared issues with agents providing incorrect or incomplete information about the college and refusing to offer support when the program was not as expected. The Vancouver Sun notes that many institutions have adjusted their policies to avoid the use of unscrupulous agents and provided a summary of the practices of several public universities in BC.
Cambrian College has launched a business-finance diploma program that it says is the first-of-its-kind in northern Ontario. Graduates of the program will be prepared to work in a variety of financial services sector segments, including banking, mortgages, insurance, wealth management, and financial planning. The first year will offer a common curriculum with other Cambrian business diplomas. Students can complete the program in a flexible manner, with the options of studying on campus, virtually, or a combination. Graduates will be prepared to become certified as financial planners. The program will start in Fall 2023.
Instructors from English cégeps spoke to CBC and CTV News about how Bill 96 could result in students having fewer opportunities to study languages other than French. This fall, students who do not have a certificate of eligibility to study in English will be required to take a French exit exam before they graduate. English cégeps will be required to offer more French courses, which the instructors fear could come at the cost of other courses such as Spanish or Mandarin. Several expressed their concern about the way QC implemented the new law and what it will mean for their jobs. “The administrations are struggling to find a way to accommodate the government in the new law, but at the same time protect teachers and ensure student success,” said Dawson College instructor Christina Chough.
York University launched a new open-access Microlecture Series in Sustainable Living that will focus on sustainability-focused actions that participants can implement in their day-to-day lives. The series consists of six microlectures that cover topics such as microplastics, energy and economic growth, vulnerable populations and flooding, emergency management, colonialism, and the warming of lakes. Those who complete the series will become ‘Sustainable Living Ambassadors’ with Digital Badge in Sustainable Living. “By offering a chance to not just learn about sustainability, but to make a difference and inspire others, the Microlecture Series is a powerful resource in our collective quest for a better future,” says YorkU VP of Research and Innovation Amir Asif.
Several colleges in Canada have recently received donations from local industry to support student learning on campus. New Brunswick Community College’s practical nursing program received a donation from Medavie to support the acquisition of educational technology, such as augmented reality software. Cambrian College received $350K from Glencore to support the construction of its electrical vehicle lab and the creation of scholarships for Indigenous students. Okanagan College’s Electronics Engineering Technology program received state-of-the-art equipment from a local communications engineer and electronics hobbyist. “Gifts-in-kind, from equipment to materials, provide valuable teaching and learning aids helping students get … hands-on, real-world experience,” explained Okanagan College Foundation Executive Director Helen Jackman.
McMaster University and OCAD University have announced new opportunities for students to gain hands-on learning experience that will serve them in their future workplaces. McMaster’s Faculty of Social Sciences is launching co-op program options in Economics, Political Science, and Work and Labour Studies. The co-op streams will provide students with the opportunity to apply their learning in the workplace and position details will be noted on students’ transcripts. OCAD U has opened the Experimental Fabrication Studio, a digital maker facility where students can work with cutting-edge digital media and advanced manufacturing equipment. With the new facility, the university will be able to grow its high-demand programs and new micro-credentials.
New updates have been provided on the negotiations between two institutions and their respective faculty associations. Members of the Syndicat des professeurs et professeures de l’Université Laval are on strike as of Monday. They are continuing to push for work improvements such as workload reductions, improved protections for vulnerable employees, and higher pay. At the University of Prince Edward Island, the UPEI Faculty Association has announced its intent to strike on March 20 if a collective agreement is not reached by that time.