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College of North Atlantic to lay off 14 faculty at rural N.L. campuses

The College of the North Atlantic Bonavista campus.
The College of the North Atlantic Bonavista campus. - file photo

College developing new programs, expanding campuses

The College of the North Atlantic (CNA) announced Monday that 14 full-time permanent faculty will be laid off and six contractual faculty will not be renewed, following the completion of its annual academic review of programs.

The review means changes to CNA’s 2018-19 academic program offerings in keeping with labour market demand and student demand.

A news release notes the decisions related to programs are the result of the college’s strategic enrolment management (SEM) process — an evidenced-based methodology for the assessment of program offerings for each academic year.

Bill Radford, CNA president and CEO, said the college’s ability to respond to the needs of labour market and student demands is at the core of its operations. He said the college carefully reviewed all of its programs, enrolment numbers and opportunities for graduates as part of the strategic enrolment management process.

“As a leading post-secondary education provider in Newfoundland and Labrador, CNA has a responsibility to its clients — the students and employers — to ensure that the programs offered at its 17 campuses are a true reflection of student requirements, labour market demand and industry feedback,” he said.

“We are currently undertaking a strategic planning process, which gets underway May 9 in Stephenville, which will further examine how we do business in this province and support campus and academic renewal.”

Among the programs suspended and campuses affected by changes are: construction/industrial electrician (Bonavista and Bay St. George); instrumentation and control technician, metal fabricator (fitter) and sheet metal worker (Burin); industrial mechanic (millwright) (Baie Verte); and process operations engineering technology (Corner Brook).

Industrial engineering technology – co-op (Ridge Road) will also be suspended for student intake; however, it will be reviewed and revised during 2018-19 and will not have any faculty affected during this time.

Changes will also be made to the office administration and business administration programs in Corner Brook, whereby office administration will see a reduced intake capacity, meaning one class section will be suspended, and the business administration program will not have an intake in marketing. The Baie Verte campus will see the temporary addition of the home support worker/personal care attendant program for the 2018-19 academic year.

Jerry Earle, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), said the layoffs are a troubling trend at the college in recent years, particularly at rural campuses.

Earle said the rural campuses, the programs and the jobs are integral parts of the economic structure of rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

“We are of the understanding that these layoffs are not the result of budgetary issues, but as part of their annual enrolment management process, but we are looking into that further and requesting additional information from the college on that front,” Earle said. “While we understand that the college needs to be responsive to enrolment demands, they should be engaging with their frontline staff, faculty and their union on ways to mitigate impact, create and attract new programs, and improve enrolment and program delivery.”

Radford said the college has to do things differently than it did in the past, and there are a number of possibilities being explored.

“We’ve been doing the same programs for 20 years and the inevitable has happened,” he said. “So what we are doing is looking at how can we innovate and present new programs so we can keep those campuses alive, but not only keep them alive — we shouldn’t be just throwing them a lifeline once in awhile, we should be growing them and looking at how to make them vibrant. But that’s going to take some time and a process.

“So we are in a public strategic planning process which is going on across the province, actually this month, with public consultations with our college community, but also the private sector, government as well as the municipalities themselves.

“We need to do things differently not only to keep those campuses alive, but to make them a hub for those communities. If we keep on doing the same stuff, the same thing will keep on happening each year, the consequences being layoffs. I really feel for the people who are impacted by the layoffs and I don’t want that to continue to happen, so we are going to do things differently.”

Radford notes there are models in Canada and other parts of the world where community campuses have been turned around to become important contributors to their communities.

“It’s extremely important that people realize the College of the North Atlantic is, in my opinion, the backbone of Newfoundland and Labrador,” Radford said. “Our intention is to not close campuses, our intention is to change those campuses into innovational and entrepreneurship hubs for those communities. I believe we can do that with a lot of hard work.

“What I am hoping is that all of those people who were laid off will eventually be able to come back to work when we’ve reprogrammed and reconfigured the college.”

The CNA is one of the largest post-secondary educational and skills training centres in Atlantic Canada, and has existed for 50 years. The CNA currently has 17 campus locations throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, and one in Qatar in the Middle East.

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