Challenges of staff renewal will offer career opportunities, panel says

A challenge to Ontario Colleges over the next five years will be staff renewal, coupled with an unpredictable world economy and government financial pressures, a panel of college presidents told the 2012 OCASA Professional Development Conference.

“A mismatch of skills in skills development, in a time of rising unemployment” at a time of reduced resources will aggravate these problems, said  Chris Whitaker, President of St. Lawrence College.

The decline in government support which has seen grants shrink to 43% of college income, comes at a time of creeping accountability, added Jeff Zabudsky, President of Sheridan College. Funding may be down, he said, but expectations are up.

Maureen Piercy, President of Loyalist College, said colleges will be increasingly challenged to maintain differentiation, saying the issue is somewhat polarized in larger colleges which have taken on issues that were not part of the colleges mandate in 1967.

The three were taking part in the President’s Panel at the OCASA PD Conference chaired by Brian Desbiens, a recruitment consultant with Promeus and columnist with College Administrator magazine.

Mobility and transfer credit will be a continuing challenge, Piercy said, both within colleges and from colleges to universities. Over the next few years, she said, “there will be wonderful opportunities” for career advancement.

The panel was asked about the potential for amalgamation – which, the questioner said, “would  create fewer presidents.” Piercy said the talk of amalgamation has been around for many years. She said that massive amalgamation in Australia did not work. “How much can you really change?” She said that many resources are required and can’t be diminished by combining colleges. Zabudsky said that Alberta tried amalgamation at one time, and it didn’t work – and de-amalgamation was needed.