Moving Forward



MITT is making a difference to both students and industry

By Kelly Gray

Manitoba is looking for workers. In fact, the province reports that by 2020 employers will be on the hunt for 75,000 workers who have post-secondary, apprenticeship, or occupation specific training. The jobs are there if Manitobans can bring the right skill sets to employers.
To help make this happen the province raised the profile of one of Manitoba’s leading training facilities. Last year Manitoba’s Education and Advanced Learning Minister announced new legislation that would change the name of Winnipeg Technical College to the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT) in a move that would establish the school as a standalone hybrid institution offering both secondary and post-secondary skills training.

According to MITT President Paul Holden, the new framework will offer much to students and career seekers. Beginning in the 2015-16 school year, secondary students will be able to access MITT and graduate with a high school diploma, a one year post-secondary certificate, and substantial credits towards a trade. Students can then take those credentials and go to work, or continue on at MITT or other partner colleges or universities for post-secondary diplomas or degrees.

“This new framework is all about success for not just high school students, but for those who seek to advance established careers or move into a new field,” says Holden, who points out that MITT’s programs give industry an opportunity to assess individuals and their skill levels through work practicums and co-op placements. “It also gets students involved faster with programs that begin during high school years. And industry gets the labour force it needs to succeed in a competitive marketplace.”

The story of MITT really begins with the Louis Riel and Pembina Trails school divisions where Winnipeg Technical College was mandated to provide vocational training in the 1980s. This mandate grew in the 1990s and a decision was made to get into pre-employment training that was more responsive to the labour market. In 2014, enter MITT, an institution that has been engineered to target high school and post-secondary students locally and internationally.

“Altogether, MITT is a win/win for the education system as well as students themselves,” says Holden. He describes a program where youth can elect to take the core of high school subjects such as math and English and work towards a trade at the same time. Grads of MITT receive their high school diploma as well as credit for up to a full year of post-secondary. They will then be able to move into programs at institutions such as Red River College or Assiniboine Community College with a kick-start that means a faster route to become a journeyperson or Red Seal, amongst other professions. “This can save as much as $5,000 in tuition,” Holden says, noting that MITT offers a total program rather than just a course.

MITT programs also complement existing credentials. In fact, 30 per cent of MITT’s students come with degrees or diplomas. According to Holden these students, as well as others, are seeking both hands-on training as well as certification that is directly tied to today’s labour market needs.

There is more. MITT offers satellite campuses to take programs to students. For example, there is a new centre at 765 Main Street targeted to those in Manitoba’s Aboriginal community. Here, MITT has partnered with YouthBuild International to bring labour market responsive training programs to a population segment that is looking for expanded options leading to careers.

“Our strength is in placement. Our goal is to be nimble and proactive regarding the needs of employers,” he says, mentioning MITT’s Welding program that is currently fully subscribed. “Ninety-eight per cent of welding program grads find work quickly in a related field. We are now working to expand the number of programs we offer and will have some exciting announcements shortly.”

The list of programs for both diploma and certificates is a long one. Indeed, MITT offers a slate of over 20 certificate courses that are highly relevant to a wide range of sectors that include the automotive, health and information and communications areas as well as electrical, carpentry and other building trades. There are drafting programs as well as business courses, and programs that get people what they need to succeed in areas such as culinary arts. MITT also partners with specific businesses to deliver courses engineered to keep their staff current.

MITT also delivers to the world. The Institute offers 16 programs to international students who come from a dizzying array of locations to obtain Canadian credentials in everything from Technical Drafting to Early Childhood Education. “We started with under a hundred international students a few years ago and have grown to nearly 500 students today,” says Holden. “These students contribute such diversity and culture to our campus, not to mention the important role they play in our community and our economy.”

“Build your future here,” concludes MITT’s president. “We are here to bridge students into employment or on to advanced levels of education with our post-secondary partners. We want to be a solution that gets students into the right jobs and offers industry the workers that will keep Manitoba businesses successful as we move forward.”