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Technical Status On The Horizon For Sicc

S.I.C.C. At the recent Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations meeting in January, the Saskatchewan Indian Community College (SICC) made a presentation regarding their bid for educational status as a technical institute. Further meetings and presentations are planned to pursue this important development. The change in status from community college to technical institute has been brought about by the increased accredited technical courses offered by SICC.

This development is part of the ongoing philosophy of the college to provide Indian people with the appropriate skills to secure employment in the labour market, while at the same time offering training programs that are relevant to individual and community needs.

However, the road of progress has not been an easy one for the community college. In the fall of 1982 the college was in a crisis situation, and almost forced to close down. Serious management and financial problems were cited as causing a lack of credibility with the federal and provincial governments and their suppliers.

"One of the weaknesses the college had at that time is that most of our skills and trades programs had not been accredited through the provincial institutes and so we had been giving people certificates that weren't marketable at all," states Ray Ahenakew, SICC president.

With the challenge faced, the board of directors and president, decided to initiate a dynamic organizational development effort designed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the Saskatchewan Indian Community College.

Ahenakew speaks bluntly of the results of that retrospective assessment, "We were doing more harm to our people than good. Changes were needed in SICC's programming and delivery.

"In 1983, aided by $3.5 million in contracts from the federal and provincial agencies, Ahenakew and staff initiated educational programs intended to turn SICC into a sound institute. "A top ranked institute," points out Ahenakew.

SICC training needs assessment had to be tied to provincial and on reserve labour demand and supply. Priority must be given to courses developed in response to labour demands of the on-reserve economy. Especially in the construction trades, because housing is the major source of economic activity on the reserves, and at present the majority of work is being contracted out, due to the lack of qualified Indian contractors. And that priority in adult basic education courses be given to students who have clearly identified vocational goals.

At present the community college through the Saskatchewan Training Institute Plan is offering a series of accredited courses at satellite training centers throughout Saskatchewan.

These are on-reserve programs using technical institute instructors and curriculum, providing joint certification by the Department of Education and the Saskatchewan Indian Community College to Indian students.

These programs were made possible by the committment of $800,000 by Canada Employment and Immigration Canada for the setting up of five regional training centers. Those courses currently underway are recreation technology at Fort Qu'Appelle, a welding course at Yorkton, an industrial mechanics program in Shellbrook, health sciences in North Battleford and a business administration program in Prince Albert. The plan being to expand the satellite colleges to include a library technicians program in Saskatoon and to incorporate the Prince Albert business college's office administration program, both by the fall of 1984.

SICC is also offering adult basic education at the grade 8-12 levels, allowing individuals. to obtain the required academic pursuits necessary for enrollment in a technical or vocational course. Through the skills and trades program fully accredited courses are being delivered by means of affiliation or contractual agreements with the provincial technical institutes.

To meet the future needs of Indian people, SICC has recognized that due to the increasing complexity of Indian local government, staff in these organizations are to be provided with the appropriate management and administrative skills.

To accommodate this demand the Prince Albert business college was purchased. Now Indian people will be able to receive through the satellite colleges accredited training in the areas of word and data processing, as well as in conventional secretarial and receptionist skills.

Furthermore it has been proposed that the Saskatchewan Indian Management Training Institute be established. Its' function would be to assist band councils to assess their management systems and overall organizational needs. Plus refine existing training packages and develop additional packages in newly defined areas.

Technical Status On The Horizon For Sicc

Already a pilot project at Montreal Lake has been conducted. Training packages in project management, financial management and public administration have been designed and delivered. Based upon the success of the Montreal Lake pilot project, it has been proposed that evaluations of systems for four additional band councils be undertaken.

According to Ray Ahenakew, his goal for the college over the next few years is simply stated, "I'm looking to see more and more people graduate. More and more people with the training and attitude to make it in whatever endeavour they undertake. I'm looking for people success."