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Profile: Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology

Article by TEN Staff March 1, 2017 Profile

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The Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology prepares high school, post-secondary, and adult learners for work through practical education in the skills employers need right now. Programs are designed in consultation with industry, business, and government to respond to skill gaps in the workforce, and programs are integrated.

That is, high school students study alongside post-secondary learners, and not only that, finish their program with a high school diploma and a post-secondary credential. No other educational institution in Manitoba has a model quite like this.

MITT is innovative, entrepreneurial, and forward-looking, and its senior leadership embodies these traits. Paul Holden, President and CEO, Ray Karasevich, Vice President, Academic, and Liz Choi, Vice President Students and Strategic Partnerships, are making the most of the opportunities that continue to come their way, ensuring that MITT remains industry driven, with its focus clearly on students and their success.

Created by provincial legislation in 2014, MITT has a unique, market-responsive mandate that is grounded in partnerships and collaboration.

To start, MITT partners with six school divisions to offer vocational training to students. Students from these divisions take their core academic courses at their home school but take their vocational training at MITT. This provides the students access to outstanding facilities and industry-connected instructors, and they are able to learn alongside other secondary and post-secondary students.

A partnership with Division Scolaire Franco-Manitobaine that brought 26 francophone students into a pilot program three years ago now draws 230 students, and as of 2016-17, MITT is expanding programming to be a full vocational training partner for the division. The win-win partnership allows students to split their time between MITT and their home schools, and allows schools to provide the most current vocational training facilities in French without the expense of building and maintaining additional facilities at numerous schools.

MITT also offers a full-time secondary offering under the banner MITT High School, which is open to any student in Manitoba who wishes to enrole. These students divide their day between academic and vocational programs much like the students from the partner divisions; however they take their core classes at MITT and will graduate with a high school diploma from MITT.

"The uniqueness of this particular model, whether you are a student attending from another division or an MITT High School student, is that we aren’t just providing a few college credits — we’re actually providing an entire year of post-secondary in high school," says Holden. "Students graduate with their high school diploma and a post-secondary certificate, and in the trades programs they qualify for level one and in some cases level two apprenticeship."

While MITT has a strong high school program, its post-secondary programs are where it is seeing even greater growth. MITT will soon be offering over 30 different programs to domestic and international students.

MITT has exceeded enrolment projections every year since 2013-14. It will see well over 5,600 students through its doors this year and that number is expected to continue to grow. Enrolment growth is attributed to the relevance of its programs to current labour market needs and its outstanding relationships with industry employers, including for co-op and practicum placements. Ultimately, MITT graduates get jobs quickly as a result.

MITT also has agreements with several institutions, including Red River College and Assiniboine Community College, that allow MITT graduates to transfer directly into advanced education at those institutions, a huge opportunity for students interested in further study.

"Student learning is flexible and takes place on our campus and in the work place. Our programs allow students to move into careers quickly, or on to additional post-secondary opportunities. This is truly education that works," states Karasevich.

As a result, MITT programs attract students from all over Manitoba and around the world, benefiting Manitoba’s labour market in a significant way. MITT has established outstanding relationships with international partners and has seen a substantial increase of interest from international students in recent years. Liz Choi says, "Only four years ago, MITT (then Winnipeg Technical College) was recruiting international students from only two countries — India and China. Today students are enrolling at MITT from over 40 countries, and all six continents."

Holden says having a Canadian credential makes it easier for graduates to immigrate, ultimately remaining in Manitoba and contributing to the economy. He estimates MITT will host almost 1,000 international students this fiscal year.

Prior to joining MITT, Holden was responsible for provincial Apprenticeship, Employment and Workforce Development programs and services, Industry Sector Councils, and Essential Skills in his previous role as Senior Executive Director of Manitoba Jobs and Skills Development. He serves as vice-chair on both the Cambrian Credit Union and Credit Union Central of Manitoba boards of directors, as well as vice-chair on the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce board of directors, and he has capitalized on his experience and industry networks to reinvigorate MITT’s programming to address the province’s skilled labour needs.

Industry partnerships with MITT begin long before curriculum is even developed. For example, MITT is working with the Information and Communication Technologies Association of Manitoba (ICTAM) to establish new programs in the areas of cyber defense, cloud administration and software development.

It is important to MITT’s leaders to know that they are training students for jobs that will exist and are available upon completion of their program. Recently, more than 25 member companies of the Print Industry Association of Manitoba helped to build a federal government-supported multi-million dollar program that’s predicted to garner two job offers for every graduate.

"It really does require you to partner with industry in such a way that you’re not building programs and then asking industry to buy into them; you’re having industry come to work with you hand-in-hand as true partners in the construction and development of those programs," Holden says.

That collaborative model will continue to drive program development and adaptations as industry needs evolve and change. When it comes to education in Manitoba, MITT is truly one to watch. Practical, relevant training that leads directly to employment or on to further postsecondary opportunities.

For more information on MITT, visit: http://mitt.ca

Want to meet the MITT executives? You'll find them at a TEN Event