Langley university assessing Skills Blueprint

Kwantlen Polytechnic University, like every other post-secondary school in B.C., is responding to the new provincial Skills Blueprint.

The Skills Blueprint called for a big increase in the percentage of students studying for trades and technology courses, areas seen as in demand by employers.

Salvador Ferreras, Kwantlen’s provost and academic vice president, answered some of the Langley Advance’s questions about what that may mean for the future of the school and its students.

Ferreras noted that the collective response by B.C.’s schools was still taking shape along with the new provincial Skills Blueprint.

“The truth is that the 25 per cent that will eventually be directed is intended to encompass a scope much broader than just trades and technology,” Ferreras said. “The aim is to address high demand areas.”

Programs can’t quite be broken down entirely into liberal arts versus trades and technologies, noted Ferreras.

KPU prepares students in trades and technology programs, as well as health, business and sciences within its arts programs.

“If we were to identify how many courses would be considered trades and technology we need to include over 300 courses just in trades and technology alone,” Ferreras said of the current course offerings. “As a polytechnic university KPU has a particular focus on applied studies. Any calculation of what percentage of KPU courses would include dozens of non-trades programs and preparatory studies and many, many other courses.”

On whether the school will look at adding new courses or programs in the trades, Ferreras said KPU has been pursuing high-demand areas for the past few years and will keep doing that.

“The acceleration of investment by the Provincial government in post-secondary and secondary school support for trades training is a welcome boost that will inevitably create opportunities for expansion of delivery and for new programs,” he said.

There are no plans to clear the decks for new Blueprint-related courses by eliminating other programs.

“That being said, all universities and colleges regularly review, renew and alter programs and courses to ensure alignment with institutional priorities, student demand and to maintain currency in academic, applied and trades areas,” he said.

Student demand, while not the only factor, also plays a role in determining what courses are taught.

“We do not reduce or enlarge program capacity based entirely on the market as opposed to student demand,” said Ferreras.

The school also consults with its funders, industry, government, parents, administration, and faculty, as well as looking at what students want, he said.

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