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Southeast College teaches needed skills for admin professionals

During the Admin Professionals Week, the Mercury reached out to the Southeast College to talk about different options they have for people looking to get into the administration field or seeking to enhance their existing skills and knowledge.
Southeast College winter
The Southeast College’s Estevan campus continues to be a place where students, including prospective admin professionals, can learn for their careers.

ESTEVAN - Southeast College, with campuses all over the region, is usually associated with industrial and medical trade programs, which are their base.

But to ensure they cover the demand of students and businesses alike, they also provide short-term courses, workshops and longer programs in other areas.

During the Admin Professionals Week, the Mercury reached out to the college to talk about different options they have for people looking to get into the administration field or seeking to enhance their existing skills and knowledge.

Sheena Onrait, the manager of marketing and communications with the college, said they have a lot of various administrative-based short-term and mid-term courses allowing them to serve the needs of all kinds of local admin professionals.

The first option is online management training, which has been pretty popular lately.

"These are short courses delivered completely online, and there are quite a few of them. They range from administrative office procedures to event planning, to time management skills course. There are about 35 to 40 different short online courses, and they're very inexpensive at $75 apiece," Onrait said.

"If someone is looking to either get a start on their administrative experience or if they're looking to hone some skills they may already have, that's a really great and a really affordable option."

The college also offers about 10 different business management essentials. It's live online courses, facilitated by an instructor and delivered to a group of students in a workshop style. The courses range from communication strategies to problem-solving, to teamwork and team building and can enhance administrators' skills and abilities.

Also, SE College provides computer training of different kinds, including Microsoft Office, QuickBooks and bookkeeping, which is delivered online and in-person through short courses, which may also enhance the work of admin professionals.

In the past, the college offered a full-time office administration program, which was put on pause a few years ago. Onrait explained that while good admin professionals are the glue in a company of any scale and are always in demand, they adjust their program offering based on student interest and labour market conditions at a given time.

"When we are exploring our program options for the upcoming academic year, we go through a very extensive decision-making process where we take our student demand, we take what's happening in our region, we take the priorities of the government of Saskatchewan into consideration. And we combine that all together in a complex decision-making process. That's how we come up with what programs to offer in what locations," Onrait explained.

She expects the demand for office administration will be going up in the next few years, and the college will bring it back then, as it was a strong program, graduating viable and skillful professionals.

"We have a very wonderful and experienced instructor who has taught our program in the past. She's very passionate about teaching and passionate about learning. And she has a very, very vested interest in the success of her students. Instructors are key to the success of students.

"Small class sizes at Southeast College are another [key to students' success]. We don't overfill the classes, so the students get a lot of one-on-one instruction and one-on-one support.

"Also, the program that we offer, we broker it from the Saskatchewan Polytechnic, so students do get that Sask. Polytechnic background and education as well.

"[The program] checks all those important boxes, when it comes to training administrative assistants for the field, ready to go out and work. And like anything, that program changes and evolves too. So, as they see updates that need to be done, they do those. As they see different trends happening in the administrative field, they do updates on the program as well," Onrait said.

Students who've completed the program have a very high rate of employment, she added.

In today's environment, employers have different prerequisites for employee diplomas and certificates. Sometimes they require a full-scale education, while in other cases knowledge received through focused courses does the job just as well. Onrait noted that oftentimes businesses now seek well-rounded administrators, able to adapt to fast-changing realities. One of the biggest shifts was an almost full switch to online communication, e-commerce, etc.

And some of those needs for new fast-emerging knowledge are often best covered through short-term, easily accessible and affordable courses.

However, the full-time program has many benefits as well. And while it is on pause, Onrait encouraged anyone who is considering pursuing a career in office administration to still reach out to the college, as with higher demand they may bring it back sooner.

In the meantime, the Mercury congratulates all admin professionals in the area.

For more stories dedicated to Administrative Professional Day, visit our Saskatchewan-wide news hub at

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