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NorQuest College’s Centres for Excellence Focus on Business and Industry

Febuary 2012, Volume 7, Number 2

By Yuri Wuensch

With the Government of Alberta projecting a labour shortfall of 114,000 workers in the province over the next decade, workplace innovation and collaboration are becoming increasingly important, says NorQuest College's President and CEO.

"Alberta's employment landscape is continually changing," says Jodi L. Abbott. "Businesses must adapt to shifting labour demographics and many depend increasingly on immigration to effectively compete."

For solutions, more businesses are looking to NorQuest College. In particular, many businesses are enlisting the services of the College's Centres for Excellence.

The Centres for Excellence integrate education and practical solutions to support innovation in the workplace and in the classroom. This includes NorQuest's applied research findings that help industry and the communities the college serves to address challenges in the workplace and gaps in teaching and learning.

The Centres for Excellence in Intercultural Education (CEIE) and Print Media (CEPM) have quickly become nationally recognized resources for workplace solutions.

The CEIE conducts research and provides training and resources to help new Canadians integrate into Alberta workplaces and communities. The Centre collaborates with government, business, and industry to provide customized, innovative, and practical intercultural training grounded in evidence-based research.

All Weather Windows is one of many companies that have benefitted from intercultural training programs provided by the Centre for Excellence in Intercultural Education.
All Weather Windows is one of many companies that have benefitted from intercultural training programs provided by the Centre for Excellence in Intercultural Education.

"Companies use our training for upgrading worker skills, boosting organizational effectiveness, and improving employee retention," says Todd Odgers, Principal of the Centre.

Odgers' team has delivered more than 90 training sessions to over 1,200 participants and 55 clients since 2009. The clients come from a broad range of sectors: energy, government, construction, engineering, finance and accounting, hospitality and tourism, and manufacturing.

The Centre fosters intercultural understanding through external training and coaching, language training program development at the college, and professional development and advocacy for government, business, and other stakeholder groups.

The Centre's English in the Workplace set of programs are gaining momentum with companies hiring newcomers to Canada.

Programs like Clear Speech, Conversation Management, and Business Writing help ensure new Canadian employees have the language and Canadian workplace culture tools and skills to effectively perform their duties. The Language of Leadership focuses on developing leadership capacity and laddering for new Canadian employees. The Centre also offers a variety of customized solutions to help leverage workplace diversity.

A key to the success of the Centre, says Odgers, is its team of training professionals and their emphasis on responsiveness. "We're small, mobile, and highly specialized."

This same holds true for the College's Centre for Excellence in Print Media.

The CEPM is a leader in providing continuing education and training opportunities for professionals in the print and graphic communications industry. The Centre helps print and graphic communications companies become more profitable by helping improve production standards and efficiency.

"We pride ourselves on being proactive so we can anticipate industry needs for new technologies in an increasingly global economy," says Josh Ramsbottom, Principal of the Centre. "We help them explore processes and techniques that can lead to higher levels of productivity and profitability."

One of the ways Ramsbottom's team helps companies is by performing productivity audits and hosting industry education workshops at the Centre. The Centre's commercial offset lab at NorQuest is the most advanced print training facility in Western Canada with today's leading software and equipment.

The CEPM is applying its expertise across Western Canada this spring thanks to a new agreement with the National Research Council Canada.

As part of the agreement, the Centre is hosting six one-day workshops focusing on lean manufacturing principles and their application in the print and graphic communication businesses. The Alberta workshops take place in Edmonton and Calgary in March. Ramsbottom says he expects the remaining workshops to take place in Vancouver, Regina, Winnipeg, and, potentially, the Northwest Territories. The project should conclude by June 2012.

As part of the program, the CEPM is providing three to four companies with the opportunity to participate in a focused three-day Lean Implementation Planning session. The CEPM is also preparing an industry white paper detailing the issues print and graphic communication firms in Western Canada are facing in an increasingly competitive market.

"Being able to help individual companies with their internal processes enables them to cut waste and maximize their technology investments. The research our Centre is involved in is unique to Canada," says Ramsbottom.

For more information on the Centre for Excellence in Intercultural Education, contact Todd Odgers at todd.odgers@norquest.ca or call 780-644-6757. To learn more about the Centre for Excellence in Print Media, contact Josh Ramsbottom at josh.ramsbottom@norquest.ca or call 780-644-6485.

Yuri Wuensch is Media Relations & Communications Advisor at NorQuest College in Alberta, Canada.

Opinions expressed in Innovation Showcase are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the League for Innovation in the Community College.

Posted by The League for Innovation in the Community College on 02/06/2012 at 4:51 PM | Categories: Innovation Showcase -