McKercher Leaderboard March 2021

On The Rise: Parkland College and Cumberland College

Parkland College, Yorkton.

Parkland College and Cumberland College Set a Course for the Future

Parkland College and its coalition counterpart Cumberland College have been educating learners and supporting labour force training in the east central and northeast regions of the province for decades. With some 40 per cent of their students identifying as Indigenous, the colleges are also seen as valued partners by Métis and First Nations organizations and communities.

In 2020, the schools embarked on a new strategic journey to meet both the needs of the 21st century learner and the modern business environment. “The two colleges first came together in 2019-20 to explore efficiencies and build stronger connections with students, employers and the communities we serve,” says Dr. Mark Hoddenbagh, president and CEO at Parkland and Cumberland Colleges. “In 2020, we introduced Stronger Together, our coalition’s 2020-25 strategic plan that will guide us for the next five years and chart a new course for both colleges.”

Enter the E-Shaped Learner

The colleges’ goal is to create the best learners and graduates in the country, focusing on providing students with the skills to succeed right away. “We focus on four skill sets,” says Dana Wilkins, vice president, partnerships and business development. “Our learners are taught not just their course material, but also technical, employability, entrepreneurial and electronic literacy skills.” For employers, that means they are hiring a well-trained employee who is comfortable with technology, able to problem solve, and has the soft skills needed to navigate the modern workplace.

Eye on Innovation

Beyond the colleges’ goals for learners, both are also focused on the role innovation can play in both post-secondary education and industry. “The Parkland Applied Research Centre [PARC] has been around for eight years,” says Hoddenbagh. “Parkland is the only regional college in Saskatchewan engaged in research, and we’re growing our role in the innovation ecosystem.” PARC got its start with one agricultural project with Yorkton-based Dutch Industries and grew from there into an agronomic-focused research farm. Today, PARC is looking at how it can take on more research in agtech, food processing and more.

Partnering with Local Industry

Parkland and Cumberland also support learning after graduation, offering industry and corporate training to local businesses. “Our industry training is incredibly cost-effective for employers,” says Wilkins. “Whether your organization is looking for standardized training or something customized, both colleges can deliver the training needed to get employees the skills they need.”

Cumberland College’s Nipawin Campus.

The colleges also work with local industry to ensure that labour market needs are being met. “Collaboration with the region’s agricultural industry was instrumental in developing Parkland’s Farmhand training course,” says Connie Brown, manager, business development for Parkland. “Plus, we’re in constant contact with employers in the region to ensure we’re training for what they need. Soon, we’ll have new programs in water operation, security and more.”

Real-world work experience is also blended into many of the colleges’ programs, so learners can get hands-on application of their skills. “Our work-integrated learning opportunities are designed to benefit both learners and employers,” says Brenda Mellon, manager, business development at Cumberland College. “Employers can access our pool of students for work placements.”

Make a Move

“Our colleges are ready to take on whatever business and industry need to succeed,” says Wilkins. “Whether you’re looking for new employees, need to upskill staff or require research help for a business idea or innovation, we’re here for you. All it takes is a phone call to see what we can do for you and your organization.”

Learn more at (call 306.786.2760) and (call 306.862.9849).