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This article was published 6/4/2017 (442 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The architect of a major success story in post-secondary education believes a partnership between the public system and private career-training firms would benefit all.
"There is an opportunity for Manitobans to look at this world differently. There are opportunities for true partnership... not just seen as competitors," said Paul Holden, who is about to step down after only three years as president of the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology.
Holden said that he had expected to continue overseeing phenomenal growth at MITT, which describes itself as Manitoba's first hybrid public college, but Robertson College made him and vice-president of business development Liz Choi offers they couldn't refuse.
Holden said that private training businesses such as Robertson and public colleges such as MITT, Red River College and Assiniboine Community College in Brandon should join forces with the help of government, not compete for students pursuing skilled trades.
He has plans to introduce the idea to the province after he starts work at Robertson May 15.
Education Minister Ian Wishart — who is about to launch public consultation on a review of the public education system — said earlier this week that he's heard interesting ideas from Holden in the past and he's ready to listen again.
"I would expect some of his ideas would fit very well in there," Wishart said.
Two decades ago, Tory education minister Linda McIntosh appeared at the official opening of the downtown Robertson campus. But under 17 years of NDP government, Robertson and similar companies were, and are, treated as private businesses not classified as a private part of the education system.
In the last three years, enrolment at MITT has grown by about 30 per cent, he said. It operates two campuses, six adult learning centres and now has a campus in China.
"We've had a turnaround that I would argue is unprecedented," Holden said.
MITT has about 6,000 students, including about 1,000 non-Canadians, and expects enrolment close to 8,000 by 2020, he said, adding there is a year-and-a-half waiting list for admission.
"It's through the roof," he said. "There's five applicants for every seat."
MITT was officially created by the legislature in 2014, after decades operating as the Winnipeg Technical College, which had been run jointly by several school divisions offering Grade 12 completion classes and some vocational training.
Now, said Holden, there are about 540 high school students and post-secondary trade skills training is the major focus. The college offers 19 different programs, which include auto mechanics, pharmacy technician, welding and culinary arts.
Information and communications technology — which includes elements such as cyber defence and cloud programming — is a growing area of study, Holden said.
Program details are available at http://mitt.ca/post-secondary.
MITT is unique among the province's public post-secondary institutions in designing program materials to meet the stated needs of the business community, he said.
"If we have a program that doesn't meet their needs, we don't offer it anymore; we turn it off quickly," he said
High school-level courses play a much smaller role than they once did, but Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine sends 200 students to MITT for trades education. Other high school students are enrolled in Pembina Trails division schools.
Holden said that MITT will have difficulty meeting growing demand unless it expands its facilities on its Kenaston-Scurfield boulevards campus.
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