As a polytechnic, SIAST aligns programs and research activities with industry needs. That means the depth of programming – whether it's apprenticeship training, certificates, diplomas or degrees – prepares graduates to contribute from Day 1 on the job. SIAST's applied research partnerships with employers, focused on seeking solutions to real-world challenges, draws on faculty expertise and helps students hone their critical-thinking skills.
SIAST president and CEO, Dr. Larry Rosia notes that curriculum is developed with employer input to ensure students acquire a relevant education to equip them with marketable skills.
"By working closely with employers, we design programs to fit their needs and to help them capture new opportunities in Saskatchewan's evolving economy," says Dr. Rosia.
In recent years, that approach has led to the development of such programs as the Mining Engineering Technology diploma and the Business Insurance diploma.
SIAST has been involved with degree programming for more than a decade, but always through partnerships with other institutions. The Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing program, launched in September, is the first degree offered solely by SIAST.
"Graduates of the program will help this province address meeting the needs of an increasingly complex health system," says Dr. Netha Dyck, SIAST's dean of Nursing.
SIAST will consider more degrees in the future, focusing on areas of industry where an increased level of applied learning is needed in industry. Dr. Rosia identifies construction management as a possibility.
"A program in this field would respond to the leadership gap that's emerging as seasoned supervisors enter retirement," Dr. Rosia says.
That same keen focus on opportunity and need drives applied research. Recent and upcoming applied research projects, for instance, include a software solution for managing building energy efficiency, a gas station remediation project with Federated Co-op and the University of Saskatchewan, and contamination prevention in the brewery process.
"Everything we do is driven by meeting the needs of two key stakeholder groups: students and employers," Dr. Rosia says. "It's a proven formula for advancing economic development, thereby supporting the Saskatchewan Plan for Growth."
SIAST currently serves more than 26,000 distinct students through campuses in Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon, and through its extensive network of delivering distance education opportunities.
In 2013, SIAST was formally accepted as a member of Polytechnics Canada, which includes some of the country's largest technical institutes. Legislation has been introduced to recognize SIAST as Saskatchewan's polytechnic.
SIAST transfer credits
Programs offered by Saskatchewan's polytechnic, SIAST, focus on real-world learning opportunities for jobs, building on an individual's prior learning achievements.
SIAST president and CEO Dr. Larry Rosia says that's a successful combination, describing the SIAST "advantage" as a significant one to meet this province's educational and workforce needs.
"We know individuals are looking for hands-on learning, small class sizes and job ready skills," says Dr. Rosia. "SIAST delivers a full range of programming. Whether it's apprenticeship training, certificates, diplomas and degrees, curriculum is developed with employer input to ensure students acquire a relevant education that equips them with marketable skills."
A number of agreements are in place that enables grads to seek transfer credit between post-secondary institutions.
Roan Cooney experienced that flexibility first-hand. As a high school graduate from Saskatoon, he entered SIAST's Computer Systems Technology (CST) program after he heard its graduates were job-ready.
"This was definitely because of the hands-on approach that SIAST takes," says Roan.
Following graduation from SIAST, he decided to complement his diploma with a computer science degree from university. With transfer agreements between SIAST and universities, that meant he needed only two years of further courses to complete his degree.
Dr. Rosia says pairing a SIAST diploma with a university degree provides a grad with the benefits of technical education and the advanced theory required for career advancement in the most economical amount of time possible.
"We want it to be easy for students to move between institutions without repeating course material they have already covered," he says.
Roan notes the benefits, saying a diploma and a degree contribute favourably to one's resume.
Students also have the option of applying for credit for prior learning; that is, for knowledge gained in a non-academic setting. They can seek academic credit for the knowledge they obtained through life and work experiences, reducing the time investment required to achieve a credential.
SIAST delivers a full suite of programming, including apprenticeship training, certificates, diplomas and degrees. Curriculum is developed with employer input to ensure students acquire a relevant education that equips them with marketable skills.
Currently SIAST offers 150 programs to choose from. The institution gets top marks from both employers and grads: 98% of employers surveyed say they'd hire a SIAST grad again, and 97% of grads rates programs as good to excellent.