Labour education recognized into university program

    Faculty of Extension and trade union sign collaboration agreement.

    By Rita Espeschit on May 8, 2017

    With over 90,000 names on its membership list, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) is one of the largest trade unions in Alberta. Beginning in Fall 2017, AUPE’s members will be able to transfer hours from the union’s educational programs toward a certificate from the University of Alberta. The initiative was announced on April 27 during AUPE’s OHS Conference “Beyond Workplace Wellness,” where a collaboration agreement was signed by dean of Extension Katy Campbell and Carrie-Lynn Rusznak, AUPE’s vice-president and chair of the union’s standing committee on OHS.

    Under the agreement, students who have completed training as part of AUPE’s OHS Advocacy program may apply for transfer credit and receive up to 35 hours toward the seminar requirement of the Occupational Health and Safety certificate program. “The university has social obligations for the public good,” says Campbell. “It’s important for us to support adult learners, and one way of doing this is by recognizing that learning also happens in the workplace.” For Rusznak, “the agreement between AUPE and the University of Alberta shows that it is possible for universities to collaborate with non-formal educational institutions, including trade unions. The Faculty of Extension is helping make post-secondary studies more accessible to working-class people.”

    Run by AUPE’s Education Department, the union’s OHS Advocate program includes lessons from introductory to advanced level. Classes are free and open to all union members, who are also awarded "time off for union business" for course hours. A joint analysis of curriculum, level of study, and course design determined the terms of the transfer. “Recognizing AUPE’s training into our program allows their members to ladder and further their education through a UAlberta certificate,” says Nimmi Nayyer-Dua, team lead of Extension’s Health, Safety, Environment, and Planning unit. With this initiative, AUPE joins a growing list of professional organizations that currently hold transfer agreements with the Faculty of Extension. “These collaborations show the University of Alberta’s continued support for the knowledge and skills-based training that’s happening in the workplace environment,” concludes Nayyer-Dua.

    One of the most advanced in Canada, the University of Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety certificate is a part-time program designed to help practitioners from many different backgrounds acquire competencies for developing, implementing, and evaluating health and safety programs in a wide variety of occupational settings. UAlberta's OHS certificate is taught in Edmonton, Calgary, and across Alberta through partnerships with local colleges. Students may also fulfill all program requirements through online courses.