Technology accreditation: A catalyst for student and employer success
28, Aug, 2019
by Richard Stamper, Executive Director, TAC
When National Program Accreditation and its value was explained to a colleague, a simple question was asked: “So why isn’t every engineering technology or applied science program accredited?” To which, the reply was offered, “An excellent question indeed!”
Technology Accreditation Canada (TAC) accreditation is an objective assessment of an engineering technology or applied science program, by a trained, independent team of industry professionals, against the profession’s educational standards. An accredited program provides confidence to students that the program supports their success by developing a skill set of value to employers. Additionally, accreditation creates an expedited path for graduates to become a certified professional.
An accredited program provides industry confidence that the graduates they are hiring have the required skills to be productive. From an educational institution’s standpoint, an accredited program provides confidence the program they’re delivering meets a defined set of standards, creates a promotional opportunity with which to target prospective students and supports the program’s continuous improvement process through opportunities for improvement identified in the audit report, presented to the institution at the conclusion of the audit process.
As the 68 Canadian-wide accredited programs and an additional 59 submitted applications attest, a growing number of educational institutions appreciate the value of accreditation, including Lethbridge College. According to Bill Smienk, Chair of the College’s School of Engineering Technologies, “Accreditation is important for our students to know that when they come to Lethbridge College they are receiving high quality education that meets the needs of industry.” Furthering his explanation, he comments, “There are excellent job opportunities in this field and this acknowledgement from TAC should give our students the confidence that our program will give them the hands-on experience they need to be sought after to fill those careers.”
Educational institutions in Alberta have shown strong support for TAC accreditation, with 37 programs having applied to the accreditation process. While efforts continue to focus on educational institutions, we know from our numerous site visits over the past couple of years that students and employers don’t yet understand what accreditation is and its value.
To promote the value of accreditation, at the Yukon College accreditation certificate presentation last fall, students from the Geological Technology program were provided with a printed flyer which explained accreditation and its value. As well, a poster with the same messaging was displayed in the program’s main lab. Similar flyers and posters have been distributed at twenty-one other accreditation certificate presentations.
This fall, TAC will launch the second phase of its “Value of Accreditation” communication campaign, targeting industry. With the goal of generating greater industry support for accreditation, the campaign will define and reinforce the benefits of national program accreditation. Messaging, through news releases, emails and advertisements, will be aimed at certified professionals, program advisory committee members and industry and professional organizations.
With enhanced understanding and support, there is a tremendous opportunity to substantially grow the number of accredited programs in Canada, which significantly benefits all stakeholders.