Not long ago, I had the opportunity to update the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce on the State of Saskatchewan Polytechnic. What follows is an edited version of my remarks.
When you think about Saskatchewan in the year 2028, what do you envision?
Do you see a province with leading-edge industries that are the envy of Canada?
Do you see an agricultural sector with a reputation for innovative solutions to feed our ever-growing world?
Do you see a workforce that is flexible--one that pivots quickly to adapt to disruptive technologies?
I do. This is the future that Saskatchewan Polytechnic is preparing to meet.
Sask Polytech is focused on the future. Students come to Sask Polytech because they want jobs when they graduate. Sask Polytech works closely with business and industry, meeting on a frequent basis and adjusting our programming to meet labour market needs as they evolve.
We do this so our graduates have the right skill-sets to keep Saskatchewan productive and competitive.
We have a new Innovative Manufacturing diploma program that grew from a request by industry for skilled workers in a sector that is growing in Saskatchewan.
This fall we will launch a new Bachelor of Construction Management Degree program. The curriculum encompasses a spectrum of construction management topics including: scheduling, estimating, safety, contract law, cost control, tendering and project management.
The new degree program addresses a skills shortage the construction sector foresees as imminent.
We plan to have many other program announcements soon.
This is not all that is new at Sask Polytech.
A new teaching model will guide us into the years ahead—one that puts an even greater emphasis on work-integrated learning opportunities, incorporates more technology into curriculums, and allows for better usage of our campus facilities for more hours in a week through all 12 months of the year.
We are also embracing new technologies, and new initiatives and partnerships, and continue our entrepreneurial mindset to be as nimble and as flexible as can be in order to produce the competent, and innovative employees that industry needs.
We believe we are on right path, and we have the data to back this up.
Last year, 92 per cent of our graduates found employment within six months of graduation. And 97 per cent of employers affirmed that they would hire a Sask Polytech grad again.
In terms of the delivery of education in the not-to-distance future, I believe one of Sask Polytech’s next steps will be to offer nanodegrees. These are credentials for short course, lasting several weeks or several months, that can be delivered online, streamlining both teaching and learning processes.
Nanodegrees are skills-based, meaning you don’t earn the credential until you can show you can master a certain set of skills. Computer coding is an example of a skill that could be learned with a nanodegree.
We are committed to capitalizing on current and future directions of research and development within industry and other educational institutes.
This is the strategy behind a proposed Digital Integration Centre of Excellence. Through a combination of federal, provincial and industrial based funding, we are proposing to create a collaborative centre in Saskatoon that will provide our industry partners with solutions to identify and develop digital and technological tools to advance business innovation, efficiency and security.
We believe our focus on applied research, our strength in data analytics, and our position within Saskatchewan’s industry and educational sectors makes Sask Polytech ideally suited to host such a centre.
It is no secret that we are living in a world of incredible change. It is a world of Uber and Lyft. Of Airbnb and Alibaba, of cryptocurrency and drones, and of driverless vehicles.
Sask Polytech is ready for this future.
We are “Tomorrow in the Making.”
Published March 2018.