Starting over is never easy, but it has become a reality for many Albertans in the form of a pink slip.

DeVry Calgary’s president Ranil Herath says Alberta’s traditionally strong economy has given numerous people high-paying jobs with little formal education, adding Alberta has one of the lowest high school completion rates in the country because of this.

“In a downturn, employers get to be a little more picky for those credentials because there are more people competing for similar jobs,” says Herath. Hence, DeVry’s focus is to provide careers in business, technology and electronics, instead of simply short-term jobs. The institution offers flexible instruction at a swift pace — four-year business degrees can be completed in just under three years — to get people back in the workforce quickly and competently.


SAIT Polytechnic also takes speed into consideration with its fast track programs, which total between six and 12 months in length.

“They’re very intensive (programs), but they allow a person to get trained in a short period of time,” says Dr. Gord Nixon, SAIT’s vice-president academic, citing various IT, construction and health and public safety options.

SAIT’s pre-employment programs range between six and 18 weeks long, giving those interested in the trades hands-on experience.

“Sometimes the industry doesn’t want to hire you because you have no experience, so you’re caught in ‘How are you going to get experience unless you get hired?’” Nixon says.

Bow Valley College’s vice-president of learning Anna Kae Todd says existing programs within the institution are relevant for both a booming and deflated economy.

“Sometimes a recession can be an opportunity,” Todd says, adding that recent job losses have been the motivation for people to make career changes they’ve always wanted to make.

“Many of our programs are as fast as they can be and still set the students up for success,” she explains.

Some Bow Valley programs that run for one year or less include recreation therapy aide, behaviour support diploma and education assistant.

Each institution offers help via grants and loans that can be looked into further with school-specific advisers.

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