Post-secondary mandate letter focuses on preparing students for workforce to fill Manitoba’s labour needs

By Gabrielle Piché

Some Red River College students see the provincial government’s new mandate letter to post-secondary schools as a positive thing for RRC. 

Post-secondary mandate letter from the minister of Economic Development and Training.
The new mandate letter to post-secondary schools was available to the public on Jan. 17./GABRIELLE PICHÉ

“Students will get more opportunities to work after they graduate,” said Paras Arora, an Information Security student.

Arora, 24, is in his first year of the program. He’ll have a co-operative work placement through school next year, which he says will be helpful in his job pursuit.

Ralph Eichler, the minister of economic development and training, sent a mandate letter in December to post-secondary schools the provincial government funds. 

The letter declares upcoming changes to post-secondary education. 

Eichler emphasizes the need for colleges and universities to help grow Manitoba’s economy. He says an increase in co-operative work placements and internships is required.

“Success can mean different things, including employment upon graduation or layering credentials but ultimately students will be putting the skills they gained to work and meeting a labour market need,” the letter reads.

Post-secondary schools should be working with industries to make sure students “gain the right skills” to prepare them for the workforce, according to the letter.

Furthermore, colleges and universities should stop programs that don’t match the labour force’s needs and “lack responsiveness,” the letter reads. Eichler writes that his department will be faster with program approval processes.

“I think it’s a good thing,” said Dreden Gomez, a cooking apprenticeship student. “I think it’s good to support trade work. It just opens up more jobs.”

Gomez, 24, said RRC is already preparing students for the work force.

Red River College student discusses post-secondary mandate.
Dreden Gomez, 24, sits in Red River College’s Exchange District Campus on Feb. 26. Gomez says he thinks RRC will benefit from the province’s proposed plans for post-secondary schools./GABRIELLE PICHÉ

“Red River has more trades courses than U of M (the University of Manitoba) or U of W (The University of Winnipeg), so probably more money will come to us, which is not bad,” he said.

The letter states post-secondary schools will partner with Manitoba to gather data to measure programs’ outcomes. The provincial government says it will develop a new performance-based model for post-secondary funding.

International students will be recruited for programs that build skills needed in Manitoba, the letter says.

“All colleges and universities will be expected to work in partnership, in a coordinated, ‘Team Manitoba’ fashion, to attract students to our province,” the mandate reads.

Schools should also partner with Indigenous communities to ensure Indigenous students can successfully access and complete their studies, setting them up for employment, the letter says.

Staff at the college don’t know when they’ll receive more information on the upcoming changes, said Conor Lloyd, RRC’s director of public relations.

Around 22,000 students attend Red River College annually. The college is Manitoba’s largest school of applied learning and research. /GABRIELLE PICHÉ

“We are pleased that RRC’s priorities line up very well with the government’s mandate,” Lloyd said in an email.

Ninety-four per cent of the college’s grads find work after graduation, and 98 per cent stay in Manitoba, according to RRC’s website.