Red River College is getting a facelift as the polytechnic institute — the only one in Manitoba — leans into its identity as a hub for education and applied research.
The school has unveiled its new name, Red River College Polytechnic. And from now on, its nickname will be RRC Polytech.
"Change and evolution will continue to be reality for Manitobans. The age of disruption demands that we embrace it and that’s exactly what RRC Polytech is designed to do: respond nimbly to the evolving, sometimes rapidly evolving needs of our students, partners and community," said Fred Meier, president and CEO, during an event on the downtown campus Tuesday to launch the institute's 2022-26 strategic plan.
"More than that, we want to grow and we want students, industry and Manitoba to grow with us."
The polytechnic template emphasizes learning by doing and strategic workforce development by collaborating with business partners to offer work-integrated learning opportunities that benefit students and employers alike.
Polytechnics Canada describes the classification as a model for post-secondary institutes that provides "advanced technical education" that is both hands-on and industry-responsive.
There are 13 polytechnic institutes in Canada. RRC Polytech, currently the largest college in Manitoba, is the sole polytechnic in the province.
According to RRC Polytech, the move to redefine the institution will enable the school to modernize apprenticeship training and expand in areas that are hallmarks of polytechnic education, including applied research and work-integrated learning. In turn, students will be able to "seamlessly transition from the classroom to their careers" with resumés that boast a mix of theoretical learning and hands-on experience.
Meier said the change will give students more choice, flexibility — when it comes to course times, location and delivery methods — and work experience options.
The new era will allow employers to access a pipeline of top talent and opportunities to participate in innovative research collaborations, he said.
Under a freshly minted banner, RRC Polytech will continue to provide everything from micro-credentials to bachelor degrees, diplomas to graduate certificates.
In line with the rebrand, the school’s new strategic plan, titled In Front of What’s Ahead, commits to: transforming learning models to meet emerging needs; pursuing equity, diversity and inclusion in everything the college does; and deepening partnerships with industry and community.
"We must be more deliberate about increasing diversity, creating an anti-racist culture, and one that is inclusive for our staff, students and our partners," Meier said.
The institution insists its new name and commitments are representative of its preparedness to meet ever-changing industry needs as the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advanced Education Minister Wayne Ewasko and Bram Strain, president and CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba, were among those who celebrated the college's new name and direction at the event.
Earlier this year, Manitoba published its Skills, Talent and Knowledge Strategy, a document that calls on the post-secondary sector to strengthen its ties between immigration, training and employment services, and labour-market needs.
Applied research at the college currently focuses on areas including advanced design and manufacturing, clean technology, digital technology and health, and nutrition and social sciences.
Strain said he could not overstate the important role RRC Polytech will play in collaborating with businesses to build a talented, diverse and culturally aware workforce.
"Being on the front line means what business needs, Red River can deliver," he said.
Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.