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Attraction and retention for students and staff top of mind for Northwestern Polytechnic

Attraction and retention remains top of mind for a number of employment services and Northwestern Polytechnic is no different.

NWP President and CEO Dr. Vanessa Sheane says efforts are actively being taken to establish the school as a destination for would-be students both locally and around the province.

Recently, NWP introduced the Strategic Enrollment Management Action Plan to streamline the recruitment process for students and the school.

“Just being really intentional alongside that student lifecycle, so obviously we need to recruit students, we need to have programs they want to take and beyond the programs, the services they want as well,” Dr. Sheane says.

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Sheane says attraction goes beyond the classroom as well, and the school takes pride in its variety of student support options in both the academic and personal life spaces through services like the Wolves athletics program, community events, and the school’s fitness centre.

“Once they’re with us and they’re in the program it’s how do we retain them, and part of that is that services piece but some of it is just events,” she says.

Attraction and retention efforts are not just for students either. According to Dr. Sheane, staff retention presents a unique set of challenges as the school remains committed to providing quality, expert-level staff for its students.

“As our programs grow, as the number of students grows, we need more instructors and support staff and so most of our instructors are experts in their area, so recruiting those staff members to the area depending on the program can be a bit of a challenge.”

Additionally, the school remains committed to emphasizing in-demand local industries as viable job opportunities for NWP grads. Sheane says work is being done to foster the relationship between local employers and students at NWP.

“We build strong partnerships with the industries, community organizations, and municipalities within the region if we’re helping to fill the workforce needs,” she says. “They want to know what is it going to get them in the end, and so if our programs are tied to the industry needs, the community needs, then they can see exactly what their job or career looks like afterward.”

In order to stay competitive among the hundreds of post-secondary options available for students, Dr. Sheane says it is important for NWP to work alongside schools across the province to keep student satisfaction a top priority.

“There are things that students need to go outside the region to get, but through collaborations with the other post-secondaries we’re hoping to add some of those pieces in like our Bachelor of Science and Nursing Degree, it’s a U of A degree but they can do all four years here,” she says. “For the students whose program may take them outside of the region- can they start with us, can they do their first year or maybe their first two years with us, get that strong solid foundation and then move on to a different institution.”

Numerous initiatives are in place by NWP to keep students in Grande Prairie, with an emphasis on local career opportunities such as the recent expansion of their various healthcare-related programs.

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