Monday, February 13, 2012

Strategic Plan 2010 - 2015 Interim Report

The College board approved Pathways to Success, Strategic Plan 2010-2015 in June 2010.

Nineteen months later, the hard work of implementation is going extremely well.

Thanks to you, the faculty and staff of Douglas College, we're well on our way to achieving our Vision 2015 goals.

It's a good time to pause and take a look at just how far we've come. Our implementation report is ready and I'll walk everyone through it at our Strategic Planning Town Hall Forums in March.

I hope as many faculty and staff members as possible can attend a town hall forum on one of these two dates:

Coquitlam on March 7, 4-6pm in the Boardroom (RSVP here);

New Westminster, March 14, 4-6pm in the Boardroom (RSVP here).

[February 28 blog post update] The Town Hall Forum on March 14 at New Westminster will be followed by a reception in the Douglas Room, so we can continue the discussion in a more relaxed atmosphere while enjoying some snacks and refreshments (no-host bar). 

Until then, here is an outline of the report, along with a few key discussion points:

Douglas College Strategic Plan Implementation Report - Feb 2012

(You can view this report presentation in full-screen mode here. You can download a copy of the PDF here.)

Demand for educated workers

Labor force demand trends continue to shape our strategy.

By 2020, 78% of BC's labour force will need some level of post-secondary education (see page 19). Now, it's estimated that 68% of BC's labour force has a post-secondary credential.

Soon, the demand for people with post-secondary education will outstrip supply. At the same time, there will be an excess of people to fill jobs that do not require post-secondary education (pages 20 and 21).

Immigration is often seen as one solution to the need for educated workers. However, some estimates say that even if we increased immigration levels by tenfold, it wouldn't solve the issue.

So BC, along with other areas of the country, faces high unemployment among those who lack post-secondary education, and unmet demand for people with post-secondary credentials.

It's an impending crisis that Rick Miner has characterized as "people without jobs, jobs without people" [PDF].

You can see why this situation is a threat to social cohesion and a concern for a society that needs to make significant progress.

We need to increase high school completion rates and improve transition rates into post-secondary institutions. And we need to increase the educational attainment of British Columbians.

Douglas College will play its part: we will adapt and grow to help meet the need for educated citizens in the Lower Mainland of BC.

Demand for bachelor's degrees

The number of certificates and diplomas awarded in BC remains strong. But growth has been flat for some time and in the Lower Mainland the number has in fact decreased a little (pages 22 and 23).

The number of bachelor's degrees awarded in BC has been growing steadily for some time.

Today's employers often prefer to hire candidates with bachelor's degrees. Students are choosing to pursue bachelor's degrees. So it's clear where the demand is and where it's growing.

Douglas College will continue to offer certificates and diplomas. Demand for those credentials is steady and our faculty are doing excellent work in those programs. But in terms of where we'll look to grow our FTE, we'll focus on degrees and post-degree diplomas, because that's where the demand is increasing.

Focus on learner pathways

Improving our learner pathways has been a top priority since we began implementing the strategic plan. There is still a lot to be done, but we've come a long way.

Introducing the foundation year is a major step forward. Many students leave high school without clear academic goals. The foundation year allows them to be undecided. They can experiment with a range of general courses and gradually discover what they love and want to be good at. It's critical that we offer this option.

It's also critical that our credits transfer. Today's students are highly mobile. They move from institution to institution. It surprises many people to learn that two-thirds as many students transfer from the research universities to the colleges, as those who transfer to the universities from the colleges. (Read more in BC's excellent Student Transitions Project [PDF summary].)

Students shop for courses from whichever institution best meets their needs. They're cobbling together their own programs.

So rather than trying to capture and keep a student for four years, we want to be as flexible as possible. You can come to Douglas and complete your certificate, diploma or degree. Or, you can start here and then transfer to UBC, SFU, UVic, or maybe to U of T or UC Berkeley. Maybe you're best served by a program offered by Langara, VCC, Capilano or Kwantlen. That's fine. You should be able to transfer to any of those institutions with minimal loss of credit.

But, if you go to another institution, be careful: you might not have as much opportunity to transfer as you do at Douglas. Your pathways might not be as flexible or as seamless. As Douglas becomes a leader in learner pathways, I believe that students will see that advantage and more of them will choose Douglas for that reason.

The plan is a package

Beyond these few highlights, the implementation report shows inspiring progress in other areas, especially employee and student engagement.

I want to emphasize that all of the themes of the strategic plan, including superior teaching quality, internationalization, experiential learning, and the triple bottom line (social, environmental and fiscal responsibility) are important. They link together. It's a package. Prioritizing makes sense in terms of how we achieve results. But we need to keep moving on all these concepts.

I encourage you to bring your comments and questions about any of these themes to our Strategic Planning Town Hall Forums.



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