Educating a Workforce

With programs in a variety of areas—including training for electricians, hairstylists, and engineering technicians—Southeast Regional College adapts its course load to the needs of the local labor market.

with Southeast Regional College

MEET SOUTHEAST REGIONAL COLLEGE

Established in 1975, Southeast Regional College takes its commitment to serving its community seriously. The school, which serves a region of more than 70 communities spread throughout 20,000 square kilometres, delivers a variety of career, vocational, and academic programs designed to meet the changing economic demands of southeastern Saskatchewan’s growing economy.

1. Survey the community

The key task for Southeast Regional College is to meet the growing needs of the local labour market. The school works closely with local businesses to ensure that it’s running the right programs. With the recent rise of mining and power generation in the region, the college has established an Energy Training Institute that provides training—much of it safety related—to the energy industry. Sample courses in the field include rig technician, rig rescue, heavy-equipment operator, and petroleum-safety training.

The college also has a consultant who works exclusively with First Nations communities to determine their needs. “It’s important, before choosing programs we’re going to run for a year, that we do a proper needs assessment to ensure that the program will fill a gap in the labour market,” says David Harazny, marketing coordinator. “The list of programs isn’t long compared to a university, but it’s targeted.”

2. Establish programs

Southeast Regional College currently offers trade-related certificate or diploma programs in partnership with Saskatchewan credit-granting institutions. Most programs run one or two years, but some shorter programs are available. Another cornerstone is the college’s non-certificate programs: interest-based courses, such a meditation and Reiki, and an adult, basic-education program that helps adults achieve high-school equivalency.

3. Maintain flexibility

“Our strength is our ability to be responsive and adapt to what the region needs,” Harazny says. “Larger institutions—such as universities or technical schools—have a menu of programs they run every year. Ours change depending on what people need. For example, right now there’s a big labour gap in nursing, so we’re focusing on our practical nursing program.”

4. Get the word out

With the value of its services apparent, Southeast Regional College established partnerships with Saskatchewan Career and Employment Services and the regional-health system to broadcast its programs. When regional companies are looking to train their employees to take on the new demands in the province, such partners refer them to Southeast Regional College.

5. Maintain the right atmosphere

The community experience, says Harazny, is key to the college’s success. Students benefit for small class sizes, allowing them to work closely with teachers and each other. The college’s efforts also extend beyond the classroom, as it brings in guest speakers and sends students on field trips—all services designed to equip its graduates with the essential knowledge and skills to take on the burgeoning economy.

6. Prepare students

Southeast Regional College relies heavily on its team of student-services counselors spread throughout the region to equip students with key information. “[Student-services counselors] are involved with students one-on-one during all stages of their programs, from when they inquire through when they graduate,” Harazny says. “At the beginning, counselors help students make program choices and complete applications. Once students are accepted, counselors help recommend student-funding avenues, as well as housing, child-care, and carpool options. It’s a very personal relationship.”

7. Place students

Placement is rarely a problem for graduates of Southeast Regional College, as most programs have a practical component that provides on-the-job experience. The community emphasis and small class sizes also facilitate a close relationship between students and their teachers, which can also assist with job placement. “I was recently visiting two of our campuses to hand out scholarships and was amazed to see that most—if not all—students already had jobs lined up,” Harazny says. “I think it has a lot to do with our connection to the community.”