New BU Education program fills need for vocational teachers and rural schools

March 29, 2021

A row of people, wearing masks, and standing distanced from one another, stand outside
Representatives of Brandon University and the Province of Manitoba announce the new Technical/Vocational Bachelor of Education program at BU on March 29, 2021. Pictured, from left to right: are David Docherty, BU President and Vice-Chancellor; Cliff Cullen, Minister of Education and MLA for Spruce Woods; Reg Helwer, Minister of Central Services and MLA for Brandon West; Heather Duncan, BU Dean of Education; Wayne Ewasko, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration and MLA for Lac du Bonnet; and Len Isleifson, MLA for Brandon East.

A new Education program at Brandon University (BU) will create opportunities for vocational teachers and add new flexibility that will help fill gaps at rural Manitoba schools.

The Technical/Vocational Bachelor of Education program will begin in September 2021 and will be open to Manitoba teachers who have completed the Technical Vocational Teacher Education diploma at Red River College (RRC). Through the new BU program, they will gain the qualifications that they need to attain a Bachelor of Education degree and be fully certified to teach in the Kindergarten-to-Grade-12 system by the Province of Manitoba.

“I am very excited at the prospect of returning to school,” said Crocus Plains automotive technology teacher Trent Sloane, who completed the vocational teacher education program at Red River College a decade ago.

He said that although he wanted to further his education and finish his B.Ed., it wasn’t possible for him to travel to Winnipeg several times a week to attend evening classes.

“I’m not alone in this,” Sloane said, “there are other vocational teachers in southwestern Manitoba who want to continue their education. The new B.Ed. program for vocational teachers at BU makes this possible and I’m thankful BU invested the time to get this program off the ground.”

The technical education provided by the vocational programs are vital to schools and students, creating opportunities for students to develop skills that are in demand, enrich their high-school experience, and prepare for future careers or education.

“This new program will expand the number of teachers available in high-demand subject areas like math and science in a shortened length of time,” said Wayne Ewasko, Manitoba’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration. “By providing technical vocational instructors with the tools and additional training to become certified teachers we are ensuring that regional demands and needs are met, further supporting student successes.”

“This is an exciting announcement for the future of education in Manitoba,” said Cliff Cullen, Manitoba’s Minister of Education.

“Rural Manitobans can take comfort knowing their local needs are being taken care of and their children will receive a quality education for their future success.”

Many vocational teachers have backgrounds in trades and become certified to teach in K-12 schools through RRC’s Technical Vocational Teacher Education program. Because the teachers are only certified in their specific vocational area, school administrators are unable to fill their schedules with other subjects. The teachers may be forced to work a fragmented, part-time schedule, particularly in rural settings with smaller vocational programs. The new program at BU will allow these educators to develop a second teachable area based on their school division’s greatest need, in many cases mathematics and science.

“Vocational teachers and administrators tell us that there is a strong demand for an accessible route in western Manitoba to obtain a Bachelor of Education degree,” said Dr. Heather Duncan, Dean of Education at BU. “We designed our Technical/Vocational B.Ed. program to be flexible and to be taken on a part-time basis. This will allow the teachers to continue to work at their current positions while gaining new skills that will advance their careers and bring versatility and efficiency to their school divisions.”

In addition to their previous training, participants in the Technical/Vocational B.Ed. program will complete 60 credit hours at BU — the equivalent of two years of full-time study. Half of their courses at BU will be in Arts or Science disciplines, with the other half being Education courses and field experience.