McGill College: Breaking down boundaries via skilled growth

This text is part of the special section on higher education

Beginning in the winter of 2023, a professional development initiative is emerging within the walls of McGill University with the goal of serving marginalized communities and newcomers.

McGill University’s School of Continuing Studies is able to launch the School of Continuing Studies Experiential Empowerment & Development Initiative thanks to a $2 million investment, “a gift from Scotiabank’s ScotiaINSPIRE program” (SEED), says Carmen Sicilia, associate professor and Director of Adaptive and Blended Learning and the Indigenous Relations Initiative at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies.

In the winter of 2023, the SEED initiative will welcome its first group of 40 people. ” [Elle] has three goals: to accelerate the path to employment, increase participation in post-secondary education, and remove barriers for participants to advance their careers,” said Msme Sicily.

In order to achieve these goals, the courses offer the students language, for an upgrade in French or English, and professional development. “We want to address the skills that people need and where there are jobs. For example, we know that there are many jobs in technology. We really want to listen to people,” she says.

This professional development project is aimed at marginalized communities, which means Indigenous people, racialized people, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities and newcomers to Canada, lists them. “We also want to help people who are struggling to keep a job. We’ve seen this a lot with the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to see how we train them so that they have stability in their jobs,” adds Carmen Sicilia.

A unique initiative

With the creation of the SEED initiative, the School of Continuing Studies differentiates itself from its other programs for this constituency with an approach that Sicily qualifies as “360”. “The reason I call it that is because we work [conjointement] with community organizations and employers to identify people’s training needs. […] It is often said that there is no bridge between study and work, so here is the bridge,” she explains.

Organizations such as Parc-Extension Youth Organization, Immigrant Community Support Center, Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre, Microcredit Montreal and Amal Center for Women are participating in this new initiative. Other non-profit organizations could be added over the years, says Sicily.

The SEED initiative will also be able to pay full tuition, offer a paid internship at one of the participating companies, and provide personalized coaching and support to the 40 enrolled students. ” [Ce] is not just training, but everything that leads each participant to success,” says the professor.

obstacles to training

A commission selects the students who would like to take courses as part of this training. You have to interview and fill out a questionnaire, says Mme Sicily. But nothing is set in stone yet. “We are in the process of implementing this by consulting community organisations. We don’t want it to become a barrier either,” she adds.

The duration of the training will be different for everyone as it will be adapted to the needs of each person. However, it will not exceed one year, as the aim is to integrate students into the job market as quickly as possible. “The goal is to offer more short-term training, lasting a session or two or even a year at most,” emphasizes Sicily.

Other obstacles may stand in the way of the constituency addressed by the SEED initiative. “When someone comes from another country, it happens that they don’t have their diploma or they have a copy of their notes while the university asks to see the original. We are therefore working with the admissions department to accept the copy. The other obstacle is that sometimes the candidate does not have sufficient knowledge of French or English or the prerequisites are missing. We will give this training to remove those barriers. »

This special content was created by the Special Publications team at Have to, Marketing related. The elaboration of Have to did not participate.

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