News and Events

Opportunity knocks

"On Campus" by Dr. Ralph Weeks

April 25, 2012

As seen in the Medicine Hat News

One of the significant challenges inherent in the operations of a college is developing programming that meets the needs of students and the community. This challenge is similar to that of any business that somehow needs to anticipate consumer preferences in the future to guide key investment decisions today.

At Medicine Hat College, we’ve been asking members of the community – formal and informal leaders as well as business people—to help us build a forecast for future employment demand and societal needs. Our hope is to create a road map of sorts that will help college leaders make decisions, and support sustainable growth into the future.

Rather than address this challenge on our own, we’re working with specialists from the firm Millier, Dickenson, Blais to conduct surveys and one-on-one interviews to gather as much personal insight as possible.

The range of information we’ve been seeking is broad. Interviewees, for example, have been asked for their knowledge of Medicine Hat College’s programs and services and our impact on the community. They’ve also be asked about trends and issues facing their own organization/business, and their perceptions of the relevancy of programming areas. We also invited suggestions regarding future programs or services we should consider.

These comments and impressions will be considered within the context of national, provincial and regional employment and economic trends. In total, the information is expected to help us evaluate how well our programs meet needs today, and what changes might be necessary to ensure healthy alignment in the years to come.

Serendipitously, this work has been launched as Alberta Advanced Education & Enterprise is encouraging all colleges and universities to ensure outcomes we provide are in tune with student expectations and the broader economy. I’m pleased that our own initiative is well aligned with government direction.

As most people would recognize, however, gathering and evaluating data is just one part of the equation that leads to success. At the college, like any large enterprise, it takes the commitment and determination of engaged, dedicated employees to make change happen constructively.

In this regard, I’m pleased to note that the impetus for this market research comes from within the rank and file of Medicine Hat College. Over the past year, a large number of faculty and staff have participated in a project intended to ensure we deliver what students expect.

One project team, looking at the concept of “Relevant, Flexible Programs” on campus recognized the need for this study and developed a proposal to bring the idea to life.

While this is just one example of the good work happening on campus, it does give me confidence that your college will continue to be relevant to the communities we serve.