Selkirk College President Angus Graeme

Selkirk College President Angus Graeme: innovative programs drive growth

Here come the 2020s: Castlegar News asked local leaders to offer their thoughts on the new decade.

Selkirk College president Angus Graeme says as we start a new and exciting decade, a few key drivers will influence what the college will look like in 2030.

1. Climate change adaptation, mitigation, and understanding the impacts to the environment and society will be a key driver in the program, course offerings, and applied research at Selkirk.

With a solid foundation in existing diploma and degree programs as well as an established applied research profile, the college will be a major partner in guiding transition and new opportunities in workforce renewal, support to business and industry, and delivery of government services.

The net carbon emissions of the college facilities, waste production and environmental impact will have steadily declined toward ambitious targets of net zero emissions by 2030.

2. Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples will be embedded within the college’s delivery of programming, ways of teaching and learning, external relationships with First Nations and Métis communities, and in our day-to-day operations.

The number of Indigenous students will have increased significantly. Selkirk College will have developed new program offerings and credentials for students to prepare for exciting careers in emerging economies and sectors in an era of Reconciliation.

3. Students, from local communities and from across Canada and the world, attending Selkirk College will increase.

Growth will occur because of innovative programming at the college that continues to focus on careers and employment opportunities but now in sectors of the economy that are expanding, for example green technology, data analysis, advanced manufacturing, entrepreneurship, sustainable natural resource management.

New opportunities in distance delivery with state-of-the-art and affordable technology will carry a significant proportion of enrolment growth.

Within the next decade, over three quarters of all jobs will require some level of post-secondary education. Seamless and clear pathways between secondary and post-secondary education allowing for a more effective transition into awaiting career opportunities will be the norm.

Of equal importance will be the need to continue to support programming directed at wellness and the mental health of students to deliver on our inclusion and “access to success” foundation.

4. Demographics in the region will match the trends across the country that will see a crossover where the proportion of the over-65 age group surpasses the under-18 demographic. This will place greater pressure on working-age adults to support public services such as health and education.

It will be important for Selkirk College to prepare learners for a variety of high-paying occupations that both fill workforce demands while boosting earning power to support the delivery of services.

5. Diversity in the region will continue to grow as the demographics change. This will be a tremendous opportunity for Selkirk, both as a post-secondary institution and as a major employer.

Improved access to post-secondary education and employment for marginalized or under-represented populations in Canada and supporting immigration through international student recruitment remain as significant opportunities for Selkirk.

Education offerings for older Canadians will also need to expand, and the college will need to evolve programming further in this direction. Inclusion will be a foundational value that will support much of the work of the college.

6. Technology and the applications needed to establish successful and effective educational experiences for students will evolve with most, if not all, students expecting technology and modern infrastructure to be a key platform for learning.

The technological infrastructure, systems, and learning platforms at Selkirk College will be state of the art. Programs will be available both face-to-face and at distance, or a combination. Students will be looking for opportunities to be “educated in place” while accessing high-quality programs and courses anywhere and any time.

Selkirk will need to remain highly competitive and continue to grow its reputation and brand as an accessible, high quality education with credentials that yield a high return on personal investment. In the new era of constant upskilling and reimagining career pathways, Selkirk College alumni will be a major source of enrolments for learners keeping pace with changing competency expectations by employers and returning to the college in search of additional credentials.

7. The world of work will be more technologically rich, more automated, and will rely on a workforce that is entrepreneurial, creative, analytical, relationship-focused, and comprised of effective thinkers, communicators, and problem solvers. Selkirk College programs and courses will have threaded learning outcomes that will develop these competencies and characteristics in students aimed at equipping them for success in the world of work.

By 2030, the role Selkirk College plays in rural development and industry-partnered applied research will have grown exponentially. Opportunities to work on real-world projects as part of the curriculum will be a factor that students consider when choosing a program and college to attend.

8. Democratic institutions such as community colleges will play an increasingly important role in the strengthening of civil society and well-being in Canada in the coming decade. The delivery of programs in the arts, humanities, peace and justice, caring professions, and in the sciences will support social justice, citizen engagement and a strong democracy in our communities.

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