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Province gives $2M boost to inclusive post-secondary education

The funds will go toward programs that aim to help those with disabilities focus on employment readiness and skill training.
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Minister of Community and Social Services Jason Luan speaks about the $2 million in funding for inclusive education at a press conference Dec. 3, 2021. SCREENSHOT/Photo

The province is funding 36 more spaces for inclusive post-secondary education this fall and winter in what they are deeming as step one in their Alberta 2030 plan.

On Dec. 3, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the province announced $2 million in funding toward three programs that will support post-secondary education for persons with developmental disabilities across the province.

Minister of Community and Social Services Jason Luan said the funding will allow those students with developmental disabilities to participate fully in post-secondary education and the programs will focus on employment readiness and skill training.

“I was briefed that a student graduate from these programs, he experienced a 60- to 80-per-cent success rate of getting a job. By the way, that's a very handsome number,” said Luan in a news conference.

Inclusion Alberta is receiving $1.19 million for their Inclusive Post-Secondary Education program (IPSE). Mount Royal University is receiving $162,218 for Transitional Vocational Programs (TVP) and $178,317 for IPSE. Finally, Lethbridge Family Services is receiving $212,322 for TVP.

Transitional vocational programs are one-year post-secondary programs with the goal of helping students prepare for the job market by focusing on employment and skills training, stated the press release.

Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides said the $2-million investment is supporting individuals who may otherwise be overlooked by the post-secondary education system or who might not think university or college is for them.

“Post-secondary education is an incredible opportunity that all Albertans deserve the chance to pursue,” said Nicolaides. “That is why it is so important that we reduce the barriers and expand programming to young Albertans with disabilities as they make that transition.”

This is the first time in 15 years Alberta has had a strategic plan for a post-secondary system, said Nicolaides.

There are six key goals in the Alberta 2030 initiative. The first goal is to improve access and student experience.

Alberta 2030 was launched early in the year after consultations began in early 2020. The initiative is a 10-year post-secondary strategy with the goals of expanding apprenticeship programs, micro-credentials, and “increasing commercialization of post-secondary research to drive economic growth and diversification,” states a government press release.

NDP Critic for Community and Social Services Marie Renaud said investment in inclusive education is important and valuable.

“However, the government needs to address the broader challenges that their policies have inflicted on people with disabilities,” she said in a press statement.

Renaud said the UCP have made life tougher for Albertans with disabilities through cuts to Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH).

“These cuts by the UCP have made it harder for the disability community to afford all the costs in their lives, including accessing education,” she said

Currently, the province supports more than 248 post-secondary students with developmental disabilities.

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