SAIT and industry groups work together for success

May 28, 2024
Leadership Team Calgary Talent

Brian Bowman is the associate vice-president of Advancement at SAIT.

Photo credit: Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (SAIT) new head of advancement’s role is not unlike that of its founder, who started the post-secondary institution more than 100 years ago.

“In 1916, as First World War veterans were returning home, J.C. Miller, SAITs’ first principal, travelled around Alberta to determine the skills needed for businesses to flourish and to help the province achieve economic prosperity,” says Brian Bowman, the associate vice-president of Advancement at SAIT.

Bowman’s task today is indeed similar, meeting with industry and other stakeholders to determine what training the polytechnic should offer to educate the next generation of skilled workers.

“We have always had strong relationships with industry and alumni who provide a lot of support, including financial,” Bowman says. “But it’s not entirely altruistic on their part.”

The support industry and alumni provide — be it funding, equipment or their expertise — is fundamental to how SAIT trains the skilled workforce that employers need to thrive today and in the future.

The post-secondary has long had deep roots in the community, with thousands of points of contact with industry and former graduates.

In his new role, Bowman will help execute an overarching strategy of engagement to keep curriculum ahead of trends in any given industry, be it construction, energy or health care.

Of course, these consultations are not a one-way street. “We are actually seeing a shift from where we ask industry what it needs.”

Certainly, that still happens, Bowman adds, but, “Today, we increasingly help industry stakeholders understand what they need in the face of the rapid digitization of business.”

SAIT’s efforts to help advance Alberta’s economic prospects, however, are about more than having cutting-edge curriculum. The school’s applied research program is an example of how it helps in other ways, fostering innovation as an accelerator for new products and services.

“Our relationship with industry and stakeholders is really about an exchange of value,” he adds. “And my job is to ensure we’re more strategic about it so SAIT can bring to bear the full potential of graduates for industry, while helping those grads find careers they seek.”

When developed the right way, these relationships benefit everyone — students, SAIT, industry and Alberta, Bowman says.

“In the end, it’s about building a better SAIT to build a better community and stronger economy.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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