Dual-credit pro­grams get $16.4M in­jec­tion

Four-year fund­ing to ex­pand stu­dents’ career op­tions

Edmonton Journal - - CITY - SCOTT LEITCH

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion is con­tin­u­ing its in­vest­ment in the province’s dual-credit high school pro­grams by announcing Wed­nes­day a $16.4-mil­lion in­vest­ment over the next four years.

“This is con­sid­er­able ex­pan­sion,” said Ed­u­ca­tion Minister David Eggen. “I would say that it prob­a­bly doubles the ex­pen­di­tures from the pre­vi­ous years and thus we would ex­pect it would at least dou­ble the stu­dents par­tic­i­pat­ing in the next four years.”

The fund­ing in­cludes $8 mil­lion to de­velop at least 40 new du­al­credit cour­ses per year over the four years. Many of the new cour­ses are ex­pected to be avail­able to stu­dents in September.

In the spring of 2014, af­ter a oneyear test project, then-pre­mier Dave Han­cock an­nounced $11 mil­lion to fund a larger, three-year dual-credit ini­tia­tive. That pre­vi­ous fund­ing re­cently ended.

“The pi­lot had ex­pired and so we knew that it was a very suc­cess­ful pro­gram and we knew that with our fu­ture-ready ini­tia­tive that we could see tan­gi­ble re­sults, stu­dents (get­ting) higher com­ple­tion rates, bet­ter at­ten­dance rates and bet­ter post-se­condary par­tic­i­pa­tion from the pi­lot,” Eggen said Wed­nes­day.

Dual-credit pro­grams al­low stu­dents in grades 10 to 12 to com­plete cred­its to­ward post-se­condary pro­grams. It also gives stu­dents the chance to try out pos­si­ble career paths, many in the skilled trades, while they are still in high school. Grad­u­ates re­ceive credit to­ward a high school di­ploma and also get cred­its in a post-se­condary ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gram.

Ap­prox­i­mately 9,800 stu­dents have com­pleted one of the cour­ses since 2012, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease.

The an­nounce­ment took place against a busy back­drop of more than 700 high school and post-se­condary stu­dents com­pet­ing in the province’s largest career fair and skills com­pe­ti­tion, the Pro­vin­cial Skills Canada Com­pe­ti­tion, held at the Ed­mon­ton Expo Cen­tre.

The com­pe­ti­tion fea­tures career op­por­tu­ni­ties in many of the fields cov­ered by the dual-credit pro­gram, from car­pen­try to ma­chine mak­ing to bak­ing and culi­nary arts.

“This is where to­day’s bright­est and most ded­i­cated young ap­pren­tices and high school stu­dents are show­cas­ing their skills and tal­ents and pas­sions,” said Peter Lawlor, pres­i­dent of Skills Canada Al­berta.

Win­ners of the skills com­pe­ti­tion will com­pete in Winnipeg next month for Team Al­berta.

“We be­lieve that through these ac­tiv­i­ties more stu­dents will dis­cover in­ter­ests and tal­ents which they may not know they’ve had,” Lawlor said.

The pro­gram’s an­nounced fund­ing be­gins at $1.1 mil­lion for the 2017-18 school year, in­creas­ing to $6.3 mil­lion by the 2020-21 school year.

SHAUGHN BUTTS

Al­berta Ed­u­ca­tion Minister David Eggen an­nounced a new fund­ing model to sup­port dual-credit pro­grams in Al­berta while tour­ing the 2017 Skills Canada Com­pe­ti­tion at the Ed­mon­ton Expo Cen­tre Wed­nes­day.

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