February 24, 2024


Education is everything you need

Province priming post-secondary education to boost economy

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The province is boosting specific post-secondary fields in a bid to more quickly supply the job market with badly-needed employees.


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To meet labour demands being voiced by employers and emerging industries, the UCP government said Monday it will invest $5.6 million to create so-called micro-credentialing programs.

The pilot project will fund 56 programs in 19 post-secondary schools in such areas as artificial intelligence, specialized agriculture, solar energy, health technology, pharmaculture design and animation.

“We must do everything we can to ensure Albertans have access to a wide range of learning options that meet them where they are and lead to great careers when they graduate,” Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said at a press conference held in Lethbridge.

“It will help Albertans affected by the economic downturn to quickly re-skill or up-skill and connect with new employment opportunities.”


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The micro-credentialing, which will begin this September, is designed to help students be flexible, accessible and to enter the workforce more rapidly, he said.

Students head to class at the University of Calgary campus on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019.
Students head to class at the University of Calgary campus on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. Photo by Azin Ghaffari /Postmedia Calgary

The approach has been employed for decades by Lethbridge College but the additional investment is good news, said CEO Paula Burns.

“They really do compliment what Lethbridge College has offered for over 60 years,” she said.

“Micro-credentials really do (emphasize) specific competencies while retaining that robust academic rigour.”

One area increasingly needing local expertise that would benefit from the program is the burgeoning TV and film industry, said Michael Mahon, president of the University of Lethbridge.

“This creates the opportunity for many people including the University of Lethbridge to play a key role in enabling Albertans to seize this opportunity and help ensure our province has the requisite skills so these projects continue to grow in our province,” said Mahon.


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“When I think of the impact of just this one micro-credential program and consider the nuances of 56 such programs across Alberta, this is really what building the economy back is all about.”

In the face of mounting debt, the provincial government has taken heat for decreasing operational funding for post-secondary education while asking colleges and universities to raise more of that money themselves.

That’s led to layoffs within some of those institutions, including the University of Calgary.

The province has also instituted a performance-based funding model for post-secondary institutions.

Meanwhile, the man who hosted the micro-credential press conference, Lethbridge-East UCP MLA Nathan Neudorf, appeared to walk back the assertion he made last Friday that a higher COVID-19 case count in unvaccinated Albertans would be a good thing to hasten the end of the pandemic.


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“I’m very hopeful we’ll see the same kind of trend (as in the U.K.), maybe a bit of an accelerated case rate but then a quick decline,” he told a Lethbridge TV news show on Friday.

When questioned about it by reporters Monday, the chair of the UCP caucus emphasized the need for vaccinations but said his message was no different from the one he delivered Friday to a Lethbridge TV news show.

“I never hoped for cases to go up,” he said.

“My hope is that it would level off and drop as quickly as it rose.”

But he said his comments last Friday were his “personal understanding” and not that of the government’s which remains committed to maximum vaccinations.

The opposition NDP say Neudorf’s earlier comments reflect the reckless hands-off approach the government has been taking as COVID-19’s fourth wave has surged over the summer.

As for concerns over the return to school without provincial COVID-19 measures of children under 12 who aren’t able to be vaccinated, Neudorf said the province is monitoring the situation closely.

“We have to see what happens rather than guess what happens,” he said.

[email protected]

Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn



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