The PCTIA and the BC Career Colleges Association (BCCCA) perform complementary roles in the post-secondary education and training sector, both operating within a set of published by-laws. PCTIA regulates programs of study that are longer than 40 hours and that cost $1000 or more in tuition fees. PCTIA grants accreditation status to institutions to a maximum of five years for any one accreditation period, and it performs a role in consumer protection.
THE BRITISH COLUMBIA CAREER COLLEGES ASSOCIATION
The BCCCA represents school owners and administrators for the purposes of:
1. communications among post secondary institutions, professional organizations and governments ministries and agencies,
2. advocacy initiatives and position papers to government regarding the importance of the private training sector to economic health and the availability of a trained workforce, and
3. professional development processes and events that sustain the standard of student services, administrative currency, and increases the links between the private sector and the professions.
SIMILARITIES & DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PRIVATE SECTOR & THE PUBLIC SECTOR
In general, the two-post secondary education and training sectors are both similar and different. These sectors are similar in that they:
1. provide a wide range of learning options and program types to the student;
2. provide a learning and program outcome that is recognized by the award of a certificate, a diploma, or a degree;
3. charge tuition and associated programming fees.
The sectors are different in that:
1. public sector institutions generally accept applications based upon the 'grade point average' [GPA] of the applicant's previous transcripts, whereas private sector institutions accept applications based upon the published 'admission requirements' found in the program descriptor;
2. public sector institutions traditionally focus on academic programming and have been moving into vocational training fields, whereas private sector institutions are better known for focusing on vocational training courses and programs and are moving into some academic field;
3. program start dates at public sector institutions are generally fixed in a traditional academic calendar with starts in or around September and January, whereas start dates at private sector institutions can occur anytime and often have multiple program entry dates due to flexible scheduling formats.
THE ADVANTAGES OF PRIVATE SECTOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
It is generally understood and agreed that the private sector offers programming structures that can be more advantageous to the adult learner than the programming structure found in the public sector. Examples of this are:
1. programming structure in the private sector frequently offers more compressed training plans, with few breaks in the schedule;
2. job success rates are oftentimes immediate as fewer graduates enter into the labour market at any one time – as opposed to public institution graduating classes in the spring and the fall of a year;
3. flexibility of enrollment starting points allows for frequent – and in some cases continuous – intake dates throughout the year;
4. admission requirements are more likely to be based on the 'portfolio' approach, and the applicant's experience, than on the GPA of a previous transcript;
5. the likelihood that there is no waitlist;
6. year-round training reduces the learner's living costs and therefore the dependence upon family, savings or loans; and
7. private sector training is more consistent with current concepts regarding social responsibility & the 'greening' of education and training, by providing the leanest and most cost efficient structures for job training – thereby reducing the carbon footprint required to reach a student's desired outcomes.
The BCCCA is a communication and advocacy organization that is the voice for private, post-secondary education and training in the province of BC. The organization speaks to the significant role that private educational institutions play in training adult learners for local and regional labour markets, as well as upgrading the skills sets of currently employed persons.
Each year, the private sector trains in excess of 61,000 [data: 2007] students. These adult learners are provided skills that are immediately relevant to employers and professions throughout the province. The BCCCA represents schools that offer a wide range of training opportunities. The success outcomes of graduates from private sector education and training are equitable with the success outcomes of graduates from the publicly-funded sector.
PROGRAMS AND AREAS OF GROWTH
The social need for education and training has never been greater. British Columbia and Canada lead the way in building the knowledge economy, which is essential for growth and competitive advantage in labour marketplace.
Program areas that are experiencing high growth are given in many web-based sites, including: workfutures.bc.ca, workinfonet.bc.ca, youthpath.ca, careerpathsonline.com, and BCjobs.ca. A recent visit to one of these sites provides three examples of expected 'most in-demand' jobs in Canada:
1. science and engineering,
2. health care and the caring professions, and
3. legal professionals.
A final note is devoted to the discussion of accreditation. What was once a process for 'quality assurance' that existed largely in the professions, now is an increasingly important factor within educational institutions, programs of study, and professional associations. An example of this is the International Standards Organization [ISO] which is well-recognized in many industries. In Canada there are many forms of accreditation, as indicated above. Prospective students are well advised to inquire whether accreditation applies to education and training institutions associated with their areas of interest. Accreditation is one indicator of quality.
British Columbia and Canada welcome all interested and potential students to make further inquiry into an educational and training program in the beautiful Pacific Coast region of the country. This is one of the finest places in the world in which to situate your studies, offering an enviable environment in which to pursue your goals and your dreams.
We welcome you!
Daniel Chowne Dip.Ed., M.A.
Education and Training Consultant
Vancouver BC Canada