RRC Adds Degree Programs

Manitoba colleges would be able to offer four-year baccalaureate degrees under proposed amendments to the Colleges Act and the College universitaire de Saint Boniface Act introduced today, said Advanced Education and Literacy Minister Diane McGifford.

“New industry standards, areas of specialization, technological advances and more complex tools and equipment are all career-related trends and issues that point to the need for expanded educational opportunities for Manitoba’s post-secondary students,” McGifford said.  “The province is responding to a need identified by Manitobans, industry and labour market analysts across Canada.”

The minister said she was pleased to be able to announce $250,000 which would support the development of the first proposed degree at Red River College, which would directly support Manitoba’s construction sector, pending the passage of the legislation.

The proposed legislation would support Red River College’s plans to begin the offering a degree in construction management, which would be the first program of its kind available for Manitobans.

“Four-year programs provide enhanced scope and specialization during a student’s overall educational experience, beyond what’s feasible in the course of a certificate or diploma program,” said Red River College president Dr. Jeff Zabudsky.  “The proposed legislative changes would enhance the program offerings at Red River College and strengthen training opportunities for Manitoba students.”

Red River College plans to begin by offering the program in 2010 to graduates of diploma and degree programs in an effort to support the skills development of existing construction sector workers.  The first students would graduate by 2012.

As part of this initiative, industry has also pledged to raise an endowment fund to support future students in the program.  The Winnipeg Construction Association and the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association will be contributing to the endowment.    

“This is a great example of collaboration between industry, government and education. These amendments would help to fill a need for construction management in Manitoba. Better training for our workers means a stronger future and greater innovation for the construction industry,” said Paul Charette, chair of Bird Construction and past chair of the Canadian Construction Association.

“This new degree in construction management would be an important step forward in supporting a key recommendation from the Apprenticeship Futures Commission. It would help to position trades people to bridge into further post-secondary education, critical for the continued development of our skilled workforce and will help to position the trades as a career of choice,” said Competitiveness, Training and Trade Minister Andrew Swan.

To date four jurisdictions, Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, have authorized colleges to grant degree credentials.  Red River College has developed a four-year college degree program.

Under the amendments, proposed college degree programs would have to meet Council on Post‑Secondary Education requirements.  These requirements reflect the work of the Council of Ministers of Education Canada Pan-Canadian Degree Qualifications Framework.

“The decision to offer college baccalaureate degrees is a significant move toward expanding the post‑secondary education credentials available to Manitobans now and in the long term,” said McGifford.  “A highly skilled, well-trained workforce will continue building on the solid foundation of Manitoba’s economy and meet increasingly complex labour market needs.”