A company’s most important resource is its people and with the most educated workforce in the country, Alberta’s people are a valuable resource. Workers in the province can amplify this advantage and prepare for the future economy at the province’s post-secondary institutions, which includes 25 publicly funded institutions and more than 50 private career colleges.
By the Numbers
- $65.4% Amount of workers in Alberta with post-secondary education, the highest percentage in Canada
- 37.1 Median age of Albertans, making it the youngest province in Canada
- $78.20 / hour Real GDP per hour worked for Alberta’s workforce in 2018, making it the third most productive province in Canada
- 50,000+ Number of registered apprentices training in Alberta in 2017 at approximately 13,300 workplaces around the province
Source: Government of Alberta, Statistics Canada
Three initiatives outlined in the Alberta Recovery Plan – a long-term strategy to build, diversify and create jobs that was initiated during the reopening phases amid the pandemic in mid-2020 – highlight how the province’s education system will ensure workers have the education, skills and training needed to meet labour market demands. First, a “Skills for Jobs Taskforce” was established to identify ways to expand and strengthen apprenticeship education, seek opportunities for skilled trades professions and enhance public perception about the value of an apprenticeship education. Second, a new vision for the future of post-secondary education – Alberta 2030 – aims to ensure graduates are equipped with the skills, knowledge and competencies they need to succeed. And third, changes will be implemented to remove barriers preventing licensed Canadians from across the country to work in Alberta by recognizing their credentials.
Alberta University Launches Innovative New Gaming Program
Calgary’s Mount Royal University (MRU) launched a new Esports Management Certificate to provide students with a way to plug into this $1 billion business.
Esports – video games played at a professional and organized level – involves competitors, individuals or teams competing for prizes and championship titles. Fans around the world attend live events or watch events streamed online and on television.
Offered through the university’s Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension – in partnership with the University of California, Irvine Division of Continuing Education – the program began in September 2020. The MRU certificate will offer practical communications and project management skills for planning and executing an esport event, explore the structures of an esports organization and provide an in-depth understanding of the industry and its operations.
“As esports grows in Alberta, it is creating opportunities to establish a proactive and sustainable ecosystem of businesses and communities to meet the growing demands,” says Victor Ly, instructor with the MRU esports program and co-founder of the Alberta Esports Association.
New Funding Supports Thousands of Internships
Alberta has supported internships through the Mitacs Globalink Research Internship program for several years, attracting top international undergraduate students to the province — and now that partnership is set to expand.
Mitacs is a Canada-wide not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation by working with 70 universities, 6,000 companies and different levels of government to support industrial and social innovation.
Funding of $5 million per year over the next three years is being provided by the Alberta government through a partnership with Mitacs, post-secondary institutions and employers to provide hands-on learning opportunities for students, researchers and industry partners. It’s expected 1,275 new internship opportunities will be created annually.
“This funding will help Alberta businesses solve their innovation challenges by connecting them to top post-secondary talent so they can expand their companies, create jobs and grow the provincial economy,” says John Hepburn, CEO of Mitacs. “At the same time, these opportunities provide Alberta students with invaluable practical skills, applied research experience and business contacts that will help them get jobs.”
Alberta Leading the Way in Online Learning
As teachers and students around the world transitioned to online learning in 2020 due to the global pandemic, Alberta’s education system was uniquely positioned to handle the change.
School authorities in the province had been developing online learning programs and creating best practices during the previous 15 years. In Alberta, student enrolments in online learning programs have increased by 225 percent in the past 10 years and a total of 8.7 percent of students were involved in online learning — the second highest percentage in Canada. Across Alberta, different types of online programming are offered by different school authorities, including: online learning, print-based distance education and blended learning (part face-to-face in a classroom and part online away from teacher).
All this experience led to two extensive guides – one for educators and one for students – that were published in January 2019.