Evidence of meeting #76 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was program.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

David Burns  Faculty Member, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Arts, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Dan Tadic  Executive Director, Canadian Welding Association
Barb Broome  Executive Director, East Prince Youth Development Centre Inc.
Justin Johnson  Chair, Fédération de la jeunesse canadienne-française
Elise Violletti  Advisor, Special Projects, Personal and Professional Autonomy, Réseau des carrefours jeunesse-emploi du Québec
Rudy Humbert  Advisor, Entrepreneurship, voluntary work and voluntary action, Réseau des carrefours jeunesse-emploi du Québec

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Okay. Thank you for what you're doing.

I would agree that it's very important that we know what skills we have. I congratulate you on your work and hope that you're quite successful.

In the school district of Abbotsford, to the east of you, is the Career Technical Centre with the University of the Fraser Valley and the Abbotsford school district. For a number of years, they've had this Career Technical Centre in which the secondary-school students are trained to prepare for employment. Have you looked at their example and their model, and whether or not that has been successful?

December 5th, 2017 / 4:45 p.m.

Faculty Member, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Arts, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Dr. David Burns

For that example, I would like to do some research before I speak specifically to it. I have not reviewed that individual program, though I believe that the provincial government examined it. Some of this work is done in collaboration with Jan Unwin of the B.C. Ministry of Education. I believe she's quite familiar with that program.

The history of vocational programming within secondary schooling, however, has shown some mixed results. It depends very much on whether the focus is on a particular vocational path or whether it is broad preparation for adaptable employment. The model 10 to 15 years ago would have focused on specific careers. For example, the first literature review on the subject, which I did in the early 2000s, indicated that there were things like Microsoft training in high schools in Canada. On the surface, that looks quite effective, of course. When they graduate, they'll be certified to repair or maintain Microsoft-produced systems.

Of course, one of the hard lessons we've learned with the way the economy has changed is that the jobs that the education system needs to prepare us for do not yet exist. In some cases, they're based on skills we don't even know we need yet. At the high school level, it's very difficult to prepare them adequately because the provincial curricula take so long to revise. If we're going to have it in the K-12 system at the secondary level, we need some sort of interaction with the higher educational system so that we can respond to labour market needs a little bit more quickly.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

Speaking about labour market needs, very close to the Cloverdale campus, just up the street, up the hill is Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary School. As part of their requirement to graduate from secondary school, the students so many hours of voluntary community service. Students from Lord Tweedsmuir go down to the local rest home, a senior care facility, and that may lead to employment in that field. We're finding now that with an aging population, there are tremendous opportunities for that.

Does Kwantlen have any training in nursing, home care, geriatrics, or palliative care? Are there any plans to make that a career option for students? There's a tremendous need.

4:45 p.m.

Faculty Member, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Arts, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Dr. David Burns

We had a program in gerontology, if memory serves, which was discontinued about two years ago, I believe, due to a lack of demand at that time. However, because our nursing school is so healthy, I suspect that's an offering that could be rejuvenated rather quickly, given, as you say, the changing demography.

The other piece is that we do have really extensive links to health care providers, such as nursing homes, with our nursing programs. I noted earlier, in my opening statement, the 300 partnerships we have with non-profits. A quick look at the data on my tablet here shows that it seems that a very large plurality of those are in sectors like that. There are quite a number of partnerships between the nursing schools and local health care providers, particularly field providers, in the community.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley—Aldergrove, BC

A lot of the students would prefer to be in pediatrics rather than in geriatrics because it's fun to be with babies, but I would encourage you to look at that because there are tremendous opportunities for the students to take care of an aging population.

I have a very quick question for the Welding Association on the poaching problem. That is a problem. Are these welders being poached out of the country after we've trained them, or is the poaching happening within Canada?

4:50 p.m.

Executive Director, Canadian Welding Association

Dan Tadic

That is correct. If you look at the statistics, only 19% of companies train apprentices. That means 81% are either poaching or they would like to get access to those highly skilled tradesmen.

Our apprenticeship model in this country has not changed for centuries. A company hires an apprentice today and trains them to the best of their ability with the tools that they have in their facility, but they may be limited and that development is limited because the company may be using only one process, making only one product, have only a limited number of pieces of equipment, or have limited exposure to skilled tradesmen.

In our new model, we'd allow the apprentices to rotate as part of this study to ensure that they are much more skilled when they graduate, and that the focus is on the apprentice training and not so much on the employers themselves.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

Thank you very much. That's time.

Now we go over to Mr. Ruimy.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Thank you all very much for coming today. I'll repeat what everybody else says, which is that it's great information.

I want to speak to you, Mr. Burns. I'm very interested in your program. There's the paper that says “4.0 GPA? Whatever. KPU to admit 6 Surrey students on portfolios alone”.

We've talked a lot about Skills Link training programs. In fact, we have, in my riding of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, Pathfinder Youth Centre, and for every single session that has a new intake of 30 students, I go and spend two hours with them.

I'm concerned about how we move those people along the system. They have—for whatever reasons—been challenged, and they've fallen through the cracks. Some of the stuff that they're learning is great.

Does your program attach to folks in that type of scenario? That's the first question.

4:50 p.m.

Faculty Member, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Arts, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Dr. David Burns

Do you mean those who have fallen through the cracks in the K-to-12 system?

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Right, because you're talking about their portfolio, so if I draw something really cool and I'm a great artist, I should be able to get on to your program. Is that correct?

4:50 p.m.

Faculty Member, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Arts, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

How would that apply to programs like the Skills Link training program?

4:50 p.m.

Faculty Member, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Arts, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Dr. David Burns

That's an excellent question.

There are two answers to it. One of them is that we actually do quite a lot of that separate and apart from the things that I'm currently testing. In British Columbia we have open access institutions for those members not from British Columbia, which are mandated to serve populations like that. So if there are ever persons in that situation who have fallen through the systemic cracks, KPU, in general, would like to hear from those persons. We do quite a lot to meet people where they are in terms of assessing what skills and abilities they bring to the university.

My project is an effort to push that a bit forward. Ideally, if we can be clear about what competencies are required to succeed in university, then we can stop obsessing over how long they spent in K-to-12 schooling and start looking at what they actually know. There are some persons, first nations persons, for example, who have an extraordinary range of competencies and skills that just don't fit very well in the K-to-12 system. Those persons shouldn't have any fewer opportunities because they fit less well within the existing system.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

I'd like to jump onto what you just said. How do we evaluate the competencies? We go through about 30 new students every five weeks. Do the math; that's a lot of students in a year.

How do we evaluate their competencies? Is that something you already have or you are working on?

4:50 p.m.

Faculty Member, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Arts, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Dr. David Burns

The reason we have that small group and the press release for the newspaper article you mentioned is that we have several models for how this might work. Some of them are more appropriate to an open access institution like ours which wants to serve the population as they are, and some might be more suitable for institutions that have to be really selective. We're going to test a few of these models as we go through and engage the students in conversation about what can be done.

For the students in that particular example, I have a couple of ideas for how that might work out. I'm looking forward in late summer to writing up some white papers for public consumption, identifying what can be done at different institutions for them.

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Are you tracking everything you're doing right now?

4:55 p.m.

Faculty Member, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Arts, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Dr. David Burns

In policy terms, yes; in achievement and empirical terms, no. The six-student group is getting a tremendous amount of support, so we can't generalize from those six people to say they learned 10% more.

The key is whether or not we can design a policy system that is accepting and respectful of diversity. Success, here, will be the formulation of policies rather than a statement that these students were somehow more successful.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

Okay. I also note, through a different study I've been working on, that polytechnics—versus universities—tend to trend now more towards delivering students with workplace skills. What can you tell me about the structure of your polytechnic universities that leads towards the development of workplace skills?

4:55 p.m.

Faculty Member, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Arts, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Dr. David Burns

Polytechnic universities are distinguished from general research-intensive universities in a couple of ways, and that's definitely one of them. Every single one of our programs has an experiential component, and that's really crucial, right? If you're creating a program, the question asked at every step of the committee process is how are they going to be practising this in real-world scenarios or in very similar simulations?

We also have really extensive outreach to our industry partners and our communities to find out what they need as it's going on. For example, I work in policy research in education, so the students I'm teaching education policy to come with me to the ministry in Victoria to talk about policy reform. One of them recommended a change to one of our policy programs, and it's actually changing at the university level.

Every time we do something, we attempt to bring students along with us to make a meaningful, substantive differences in that thing. We have a program whereby they go out into the prisons, for example, for learning experiences. We have experimental farms, where they take their horticulture knowledge and grow things.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

I have a last question. With that, are you tracking the skill set of those new students and matching them up with job skills in the field they're applying to? We see people who are graduating from universities or polytechnics and working at Tim Hortons, for instance. Are you tracking—

4:55 p.m.

Faculty Member, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Arts, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Dr. David Burns

Absolutely, yes.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Ruimy Liberal Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, BC

—and what are you doing with that information?

4:55 p.m.

Faculty Member, Department of Educational Studies, Faculty of Arts, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Dr. David Burns

The first thing I ask all the students who work on research with me is, “Where are you going?” Then we have a conversation about how to get them there. For the incoming student group, which was just today selected—I'm getting that information later on; it was blind up until just this morning. We'll meet with them in the next couple of weeks to say, “Okay, what do you want to do in the world and what problems are you solving?” We'll then write backwards from that a story of what kinds of skills they need to accomplish that objective.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bryan May

Thank you very much.

I'm sorry, Mr. Ruimy, but you are out of time.

MP Blaney, go ahead, please.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Ms. Violletti, I wanted to talk about the homelessness partnering strategy, HPS. In Bellechasse—Les Etchemins—Lévis, those are the plateaus.

Madam Broome, did you mention in your presentation that a federal program was cut in 2015?