WEYBURN - The Southeast College has created a new program that will encourage entrepreneurship among those in the trades.
According to Sheena Onrait, the college's executive director of communications and strategic development, this new online program is the first of its kind that she knows of, and only available through the college.
"This was a custom program that Southeast College developed, in response to what we saw was a bit of a gap in the market for entrepreneurship training for tradespeople," Onrait told the Mercury. "We took that opportunity, and came up with this really great micro-credential program that can be delivered virtually anywhere."
Onrait credited Southeast College president and CEO Vicky Roy for coming up with the idea for the program. Roy has also been lining up the instructors for the courses, and Onrait said Roy has a "vast network" of professionals and instructors to draw from through the post-secondary institutions where Roy has worked.
"She has an extensive experience in post-secondary institutions basically across our country and across Western Canada," said Onrait. "She saw that there was a major gap that we could develop something that could help fulfill the needs in that trade sector."
The southeast region is filled with successful business owners and an entrepreneurial spirit, she said, which allows the college to provide a service they view as needed.
As it is an online program with Synchronous Live Sessions, the entrepreneurship for trades program will utilize live online technology with an instructor. It can be taken by anyone anywhere, and not just at one of the college's five campus locations.
The four-course program stretches out over two semesters. The first runs from Sept. 27-Oct. 25 and focuses on marketing skills for trades. There will be three online sessions, taught by an instructor, along with self-study and assignment work.
The other courses focus on operations and management skills for trades, finance and understanding how things work in business. These are courses that might not be taught in a trade school.
"The information that they're going to learn is definitely transferable across trades and across sectors," said Onrait.
Even if they're not looking to start their business anytime soon, Onrait said these are great skills for any tradesperson to have. Existing entrepreneurs could also benefit from the classes.
"Even if you're at a company, and you're looking to, at some point, aspire into a supervisor or a management or foreman position, these are really great skills," she said.
The more students they have, the better, Onrait said.
Students who complete the full program will receive a professional micro-credential crest that can be used on LinkedIn pages, professional portfolios and resumés.
"Micro-credentials are little snippets of programs that allow a student to up-skill or reskill in a short period of time," said Onrait. "So instead of taking a program that lasts a full semester … these ones are short courses that are delivered in a compact timeframe that gives the students the skills and abilities to be able to achieve the goals that are set out in that individual micro-credential."
These classes have become more prevalent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said, as people who are working and have established careers might not have a lot of free time available, but they still want to further their education and training.
"The work of today's trade entrepreneurs goes beyond starting a business," said Roy. "To advance in the trades career, it is essential to learn how to think and act like an entrepreneur. Developing entrepreneurial thinking, behaviours and sustainable innovative business practices are the key to future career success."
Onrait said the college is really looking forward to getting out into the community and promoting the program. They have an extensive marketing campaign as well.
"With anything that's new, there's always a little bit of jitters, but we are super excited just because we know there is no program like this in Saskatchewan and likely no program like this in Western Canada as well."
Prospective students are invited to find out more and register for this program on the college's website at southeastcollege.org.