“Turning Alberta into a global energy capital requires more than a focus on industry. Our province needs a post-secondary education system built around first-class clusters of excellence in areas like business, law, petroleum and environmental engineering and trade apprenticeship programs. When companies enter Alberta’s energy sector, I want them to be able to find and tap a pool of homegrown expertise that stacks up against talent from anywhere in the world.”
My pledge, is to create a Post Secondary Education system that allows all Albertans the opportunity to access the education they desire and our province needs.
Access To Post Secondary Education
More people need to obtain a Post Secondary Education. It is a fact that as Canadians become more educated, they provide more resources and use less services of the government. Bottom line: more Post Secondary Education is good business for any government. (Graph below from The Price of Knowledge, The Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation, 2009)
Individuals with a Post Secondary Education, experience a higher quality of life for themselves and their families. This can be measured through:
- Better participation in community
- Safer communities, reduction in crime participation and tolerance
- Healthier people who live longer and utilize the health system less
- Improved child development, children of educated parents tend to do better at school
- Better environmental stewardship, less pollution and waste
- Increased quality in civic engagement, citizenship and the democratic process
- There is an inter-generational benefit as children of educated parents tend to seek more education themselves
Currently, Alberta is at the back of the pack for Canadian provinces. As the graph below indicates, the Government of Alberta needs to become a leader to reverse this trend (From the Campus Alberta report, 2010).
Alberta also has some of the highest needs for an educated workforce. For Alberta to become the Global Energy Centre, we need the best trades, the best engineers, the best business professionals and the best artists (just to name a few).
Under my leadership, Alberta will become the national leader in Post Secondary Education. We will have more Albertans in Post Secondary Education.
Unfortunately, Albertans from isolated rural communities have a much lower rate of participation in post-secondary education than the general population. This is especially true of First Nations and Métis students. I want to offer them a brighter future and the opportunity to help their communities much more effectively by:
- Developing targeted bursaries for students from rural and remote communities to ease their financial burdens;
- Creating support networks and culturally appropriate mentorship programs to ease the transition and support them during their studies;
- Work with post-secondary institutions to design and implement outreach strategies to attract and keep these students.
Getting A Head Start
Alberta’s need for skilled tradespeople is going to grow increasingly acute with time. I want to fill this shortage and get more students focused on the trades as they get closer to a diploma. The key to accomplishing this involves:
- Exposing students to non-traditional learning environments as early as junior high;
- Combining grade school and post-secondary education by allowing older students to begin working in apprenticeship programs while still in high school through dual-credit programs;
- Encouraging mentorship programs which give students the chance to work with seasoned professionals.
Making Government Work Better
As Alberta’s Justice Minister, I took charge of the cross-ministry Alberta Safe Communities Secretariat. This experience showed me just how much government can accomplish when goals are aligned and the barriers between departments and ministries are torn down. I’m going to apply these lessons to education by:
- Ensuring that all government departments and ministries involved in education and training are working towards one over-arching vision. They will understand clearly that cross-ministerial collaboration is part of their mandate;
- Following the Safe Communities Secretariat model and establishing a central council to coordinate activities, planning and policy-making between all government branches with a stake in education.
Stable and Predictable Funding
I know from experience that educators have long considered the way the province funds education to be an obstacle to effective management. I want to help post-secondary institutions fulfill their operational responsibilities and plan for the long term by:
- Putting post-secondary education funding on a 3-year funding cycle, so institutions will know what to expect and be able to plan effectively.
My goal is to have Alberta’s post-secondary institutions at every level producing a steady stream of lifelong learners ready to shift careers as the economy changes and prepared to propel Alberta towards global energy leadership. A more efficient education system led by an effective, collaborative government will make Alberta thrive.