“Back to School” New Beginnings for any Generation

DECEMBER 15, 2022

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” C.S. Lewis

A recent study in Ontario showed that regulated career colleges’ flexible skills training programs are attracting a significant number of mature students who have children and families. The study found, 57% of learners were over the age of 30, 50% had children and 12% were single parents.

Every week, I like to discover a new learner that is beginning their own journey of education and improvement.  Taking a step towards education is never an easy step and doing it while juggling parental responsibilities and economic, personal, and employment challenges must take incredible courage.

Regulated career colleges in Canada are experts in training these students in small class sizes, with a personal focus on the learner and their individual learning needs. For all our students, but especially for mature students, career colleges focus on employment opportunities and support students in developing a study plan that meets the needs of their own personal situation.

Today, I hope you can take a moment to read this story about a mature student, who is starting on a new career path thanks to a regulated career college.

Sandra Trenholm is currently attending the 9-month full-time hairstyling program at MC College in Calgary.  Sandra returned to school in her 50’s to pursue the career she had wanted since she was in her teens.

I reached out to ask Sandra about her journey and her answers embody the experience of so many of our ready-to-work graduates and why it’s never too late to go “Back to School”:

“I’ve wanted to be a hairstylist since I was a teen. I have had many different careers but never felt a true passion towards any of them.  I was watching my daughter at work; she is a hairstylist/barber and realized I was jealous of what she was doing.“

“While I was hesitant at enrolling knowing I’d be considerably older than everyone else. I have been totally accepted by all other students and I am happy with my decision to enroll.”

“MC College not only taught me how to do hair, but I have learned all about customer service, product knowledge and have been given the knowledge to start my own business.”

Regulated career colleges support learners without government funding for operations and infrastructure and they focus on local engagement with the business and labour communities to ensure that they are providing the skills training graduates need to fill labour gaps and support Canada’s economic recovery. They are training the workforce needed now in health care, logistics, business administration, accounting, supply chain, cyber security, and so many other critical fields.

“Back to School” On Your Own Terms And Your Own Timeline

DECEMBER 6, 2022

The first week after Labour Day each year is typically thought of as “Back to School Day” in many parts of the education system in Canada. We celebrate with dinners out, sales on cell phones, laptops and clothes and pictures on the first day. It is an exciting time for so many students whether entering high school, a career college, community college or university.

But everyday is back to school day for countless regulated career colleges across Canada where individuals choose to return to school, learn a skill and change the trajectory of their own and their families’ futures. For regulated career colleges, every day is “Back to School Day” and often on most days of the week.

Regulated Career Colleges are constantly starting new classes, taking in new students, working with local governments and employers to ensure that we train, retrain and retain the workforce that we actually need in Canada.

Regulated Career Colleges do it without government funding for operations and infrastructure and they focus on local engagement with the business and labour communities to ensure that they are training for our future and the recovery of our economy. They are training the workforce needed now in health care, logistics, business administration, accounting, supply chain, cyber security, and so many other critical fields.

Just this past Monday, the Commercial Safety College (CSC) in Nova Scotia welcomed eight new students “Back to School” in their School Bus Driver and Heavy Equipment Operator programs. In just three weeks, four of those new learners will graduate as ready-to-work professionals from CSC’s school bus program. In 12 weeks the other four with four will graduate from CSC’s heavy equipment program, ready to get right to work in construction.

At the end of their intensive three-week program, CSC-certified school bus drivers will walk into guaranteed employment with local school boards and help ensure that over 200 families can now safely and conveniently get their children to school. In turn, that means the parents of those children can dedicate the time needed to run their family business, provide essential services as a nurse, or keep our supply chain open transporting goods across our country—all without the added burden of worrying about how to get their kids to-and-from school every day.

“I decided to take the program at Commercial Safety College because I didn’t have to wait to start. The program at other institutions start at the end of February and I will be done one week later because I had the option to start now.” – Ian Hape, Student, Heavy Equipment Operator Program, Commercial Safety College

The heavy equipment operators will be trained as entry-level operators on excavators, backhoes, dozers, and loader equipment. Those students will have training endorsed by road building and construction companies in Nova Scotia and beyond, and there will be a line-up of companies ready to hire them. In fact, Commercial Safety College will work with those graduates to ensure that they have good employment opportunities ready for them as soon as they complete their training.

“I was recently laid off and because the program started in December, I was able to take it during my down time at work.” – Taylor Cross, Student, Commercial Safety College

I applaud these learners’ tenacity and focus to on creating new career opportunities for themselves, and I’m grateful to the workforce training experts at Commercial Safety College in helping make their learners’ ambitions a reality.

I encourage you to take a second look at our sector. Reach out and I am happy to arrange a tour of a local college to see the quality of the programs and the courage and focus of our students. These learners had the courage to say the time for me to go “Back to School” is now—and I am proud to be working with them.

Every level of post secondary education has a role to play in shaping and defining our economy and society and we can focus on decisions and outcomes that can ensure that we create the communities, economy and society that we want and deserve.

Commercial Safety College

Established in 1959, Commercial Safety College is a locally owned and operated private career college in Masstown, Nova Scotia dedicated to providing the highest quality training in truck driving, bus driving, and heavy equipment operation. Each of our programs were designed with industry in mind, ensuring students that they have the training needed to enter the workforce. In addition, each of our programs have met the approval of industry standard bearers and provincial regulators. We believe that small class sizes are important to learning a new skill and we ensure that all students get the seat time needed to successfully complete the programs that we offer. Whether you are starting a new career path or upgrading your current skill set, Commercial Safety College offers the training you need to succeed.

Statement by George Hood, Board Chair of the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC) on the federal Fall Economic Statement

NOVEMBER 3, 2022—OTTAWA—George Hood, Board Chair of the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC), released the following statement on the federal Fall Economic Statement:

“As a leader in industry-driven skills training, NACC welcomes the federal government’s significant investments in skills development and job training in today’s Fall Economic Statement. We look forward to discussing how our nimble approach to skills training can support the Sustainable Jobs Training Centre.

“Regulated career colleges’ direct training-to-employment pipeline provides learners—a majority of whom are mature students, women, and recent immigrants—and their families opportunities for career advancement and prosperity, while responding to our country’s diverse labour force and economic needs.

“However, we know that massive workforce shortages—from frontline healthcare workers to technical roles in computer science and information technology to construction trades, retail management, general labour, and office workers—are hurting small business owners’ and entrepreneurs’ bottom lines, as well as everyday Canadians standard of living.

“To address these shortages, we must understand that the Canadian workforce is evolving and that our training modalities must evolve with it. We must embrace a more flexible, industry-driven approach that acknowledges the importance of retraining and upskilling: to support Canadian workers in their desire to explore new roles, take on new challenges and play a bigger role in our economic prosperity.

“Second, we need to address the serious shortage of workers across major sectors and across our country by rapidly and responsibly backfilling these positions with capable international workers. Combining an upskilled Canadian workforce and a supplemental international labour resource can and must play a significant role in jump-starting our economy and fortifying us against an impending recession.

“With better access to the federal post-graduate work permit (PGWP) program in partnership with all levels of government and appropriate standards in place, all institutions, including regulated career colleges can better attract, train, and retain international talent to fill the labour shortages we face now, while supporting comprehensive, sustainable workforce development long-term.

“This kind of all-hands-on-deck approach between federal and provincial governments, industry, and workforce developers is imperative to securing Canada’s competitive advantage as a destination for global talent and solving our labour crisis.”


For more information or to book an interview, contact:

Kelsie Chiasson


(902) 818-4367

National Association of Career Colleges and CECU Announce Alliance

Canadian and American career college associations strengthen cross-border collaboration, expanding offerings and membership benefits.

October 12, 2022—OTTAWA, Ontario and ARLINGTON, Virgina—Today, the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC), the Canadian association representing Canada’s private postsecondary career colleges, joined its American counterpart, Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) in announcing a working alliance between the two organizations. The alliance will result in a closer relationship between the two, increasing the benefits available to members of both associations. 

The two associations will work together on issues important to schools across North America, such as curriculum alignment, employer partnerships, accreditation recognition, and the development of outcome standards. CECU’s popular multimedia platforms, such as its podcast and Career Education Review magazine, will also feature more international content of interest to NACC’s Canadian members. 

In 2023, both NACC and CECU will host joint events including the North American Career Education Convention to be held in Kansas City, MO, in June 2023 and the CEO Summit in Montreal, Quebec, in November 2023. Plenary speakers and breakout sessions will be designed to appeal to attendees from both countries, and time will be built into the sessions to allow for collaboration and networking between the groups.  

All NACC and CECU members will now have access to world-class training events and quality professional development offerings, including:

  • CECU events and webinars, along with the extensive library of recorded presentations on various professional development topics through the CECU Member Resource Center;
  • Eligibility for CECU’s renowned Certified Higher Education Professional (CHEP) certificate courses;
  • NACC’s Instructor Development Program;
  • NACC’s online instructor and college educational sessions;
  • Access to NACC’s affinity programs at member rates; and
  • Access to a library of CECU’s affinity partnerships, including CECU’s newest partnership with BlueRecruit, an online platform that connects graduates in the skilled trades with employers hiring for those specific jobs. 

Michael Sangster, CEO of NACC, expressed strong support for the affiliation. “By aligning together on issues to support workforce development where we have a common interest, we are capitalizing on economies of scale, embracing new ideas and increasing the benefits available to members,” he said. “The real value in this partnership is the investment in professional development for the thousands of instructors who deliver the world-class training programs offered at regulated career colleges. We see a great deal of opportunity to grow together in the years ahead.” 

CECU’s President and CEO, Dr. Jason Altmire, believes the alliance will be a benefit to members of both organizations. “CECU is excited to move forward with this partnership with NACC,” he said. “By increasing the professional development and meeting opportunities for members, we will increase the value proposition of membership. It is a win-win for members and the associations.”


About the National Association of Career Colleges
National Association of Career Colleges (NACC) is a national association representing 450 regulated career colleges from across the country.

About Career Education Colleges and Universities
Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU) is the national association serving the proprietary higher education sector. 


Media Contacts:

Victoria Ventura
Communications and Stakeholder Manager, NACC
Email: vventura@nacc.ca

United States
Jenny Faubert
VP of Communications, CECU
Email: Jenny.Faubert@career.org

National Association of Career Colleges gives learners across Canada access to Reconciliation training

Partnership with Reconciliation Education and First Nations University of Canada to deliver 4 Seasons of Reconciliation program through regulated career colleges

AUGUST 5, 2022—OTTAWA—The National Association of Career Colleges (NACC) today announced it is partnering with Reconciliation Education and First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) to offer 4 Seasons of Reconciliation, a transformative Indigenous cultural awareness program, to learners enrolled in its member colleges across Canada.

The self-paced online program offers a series of interactive learning modules on Truth and Reconciliation and will be mandatory training for all NACC board members and staff. NACC member colleges will also have the opportunity to offer the training to their learners and faculty. Through Reconciliation Education, 10% of proceeds are donated to First Nations University of Canada scholarships for Indigenous Canadians.

“NACC member colleges have worked closely with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada to create positive social change through skills development and economic empowerment,” said CEO Michael Sangster. “Today’s announcement recognizes we can do more and underlines regulated career colleges’ commitment to advancing Reconciliation through education and opportunity.”

“It’s an honour to be advancing Calls to Action towards truth and reconciliation with NACC and their wide networks across sectors,” said Andrée Cazabon, Director, Reconciliation Education. “Together, with this course ‘4 Seasons of Reconciliation’ for the workplace and First Nations University of Canada, we can better prepare the future workforce for respectful relations with Indigenous Peoples and create a better Canada for all.”

Regulated career colleges provide flexible workforce solutions to modern labour challenges by partnering with governments at all levels, their alumni of ready-to-work graduates, the industry leaders who employ them, and local communities. Tailored programs include an Indigenous Focused Early Childhood Educator Diploma Program in Manitoba. Today’s announcement will offer NACC members the opportunity to integrate Reconciliation Education into all of their programs.

“Through regulated career colleges, over 150,000 enrolled learners each year—including Indigenous peoples—are receiving the skills training they need to step our of the classroom and onto the job site upon graduation,” said CEO Michael Sangster. “Our direct training-to-employment pipeline provides learners and their families opportunities for advancement, while responding to our country’s diverse labour force and economic needs.”

To learn more, or to register for the program, please visit: https://nacc.ca/4-seasons-of-reconciliation.

About the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC):

NACC represents 450 regulated career colleges across Canada who offer innovative, industry-driven skills training designed to graduate high-quality workers for the most in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.




Media contact:

Emily Thorne

(613) 601-1381


Statement by NACC CEO regarding changes to International Student Program in Quebec

JUNE 7, 2022—OTTAWA—Michael Sangster, CEO of the National Association of Career Colleges (NACC), today issued the following statement regarding the recent announcement by the governments of Quebec and Canada to restrict the International Student Program in that province:

“The NACC and our member institutions in Quebec are very disappointed by today’s announcement by the Quebec Government and Government of Canada. Regulated Career Colleges play an important role the Quebec and Canadian economies, both of which are in desperate need of skilled workers to fill labour gaps in critical industries. This measure is a step backward in our country’s International Student Policy and economic recovery post-COVID; we need to attract, train and retain more international workers for our labour pool while upskilling Canadians at the same time.

Our industry has, for many months, tried to engage the Quebec government to understand their questions or concerns pertaining to the post-graduate work permit and find workable solutions together, but they have not responded to our calls nor shared any information about their investigation and the substance of their report. Now, this report is the basis for drastic policy change that will seriously impact and unfairly target our international learners, high-skilled graduates, and the employers who rely on them.

Here are the facts:

  • Regulated Career Colleges in Quebec graduate thousands of high-skilled workers every year who go on to immediately work in and support our economy.
  • Quebec Regulated Career Colleges offer international learners access to extensive French language and financial literacy training, as well as personal integration counselling, to ensure successful settlement in Quebec communities.

A more effective step to protecting the integrity of the International Student Program in Quebec would be to transparently release the Quebec government’s report on this matter and consult with Regulated Career Colleges and all stakeholders, including industry, who will be impacted by this decision.

Despite today’s announcement, our industry is still willing to work with the provincial and federal governments to find a solution that meets their needs and leverages Regulated Career Colleges’ expertise in training high-skilled workers quickly, efficiently, and with due diligence for today’s most in-demand jobs, as we have done throughout the pandemic for Canada’s healthcare (e.g., PSW training) and transportation/logistics (e.g., truck driver training) industries, as well as many others.”




Media contact:

Emily Thorne

(613) 601-1381


Communiqué de presse

8 juin 2022
Montréal, Québec

La présidente de l’Association des collèges privés non subventionnés (ACPNS), Ginette Gervais, a publié cette déclaration concernant l’annonce récente des gouvernements du Québec et du Canada de restreindre l’accès aux permis de travail postdiplôme (PTPD) pour les étudiants internationaux inscrits dans les collèges privés non subventionnés dans la province de Québec :

« L’ACPNS et ses collèges membres sont très déçus de l’annonce faite par le gouvernement du Québec et le
gouvernement du Canada. Nos collèges jouent un rôle important dans l’économie québécoise et canadienne. Cette mesure, mise en place sans aucune consultation ni préavis et qui est entrée en vigueur avant même son annonce officielle, est un pas en arrière dans ce qui devrait être un effort partagé pour former et retenir la main-d’œuvre hautement qualifiée dont le Québec et le Canada ont désespérément besoin.

« Il est important de rappeler que les collèges privés non subventionnés sont soumis à des règles ministérielles strictes, doivent démontrer qu’ils disposent des ressources humaines, matérielles et financières et qu’ils sont soumis à des évaluations périodiques par une commission indépendante qui s’assure de la qualité et de la conformité de leur enseignement.

« Nous croyons que les critères utilisés par le gouvernement provincial pour apporter ce changement à l’octroi du permis de travail postdiplôme (PTPD) sont arbitraires et injustifiés. Il cible injustement les étudiants internationaux inscrits dans les collèges privés du Québec, dont plusieurs sont francophones et pénalise inutilement tous les collèges privés non subventionnés du Québec pour la non-conformité de quelques-uns. Les enquêtes menées par le ministère auraient dû permettre d’identifier précisément ces collèges et leur adresser directement les problèmes, mais le rapport de situation promis par le ministre n’a jamais été divulgué. Au lieu de cela, le gouvernement a mis en place une politique unilatérale basée sur les conclusions d’un rapport que personne n’a eu l’occasion de lire.

« Ce manque de transparence, ainsi que les incohérences entre les gouvernements provincial et fédéral autour des détails de la nouvelle politique, ont laissé des milliers d’étudiants internationaux au Québec perplexes et sans réponse quant à leur avenir dans la province. Pour illustrer la situation difficile créée par le gouvernement du Québec, nous avons maintenant des étudiants internationaux qui ont acheté des billets d’avion, signé des baux et investis dans une formation, qui fréquentent nos collèges d’enseignement professionnel réglementés et approuvés par le gouvernement, et sont maintenant laissés dans une incertitude totale.

« C’est une chose de ne pas consulter directement les collèges privés et d’ignorer le marché du travail avide de cette main-d’œuvre de pointe, mais prendre une décision unilatérale sur le permis de travail post-diplôme sans l’avis des étudiants internationaux et sans tenir compte de leur bien-être est profondément bouleversant et, franchement, impitoyable.

« Les membres de l’ACPNS continueront de soutenir ses étudiants internationaux pendant cette période difficile. Nous encourageons les étudiants qui sont touchés par cette mesure à contacter directement le ministère en utilisant les numéros de téléphone qu’ils ont fournis, énumérés ci-dessous, pour plus de détails, car très peu d’informations ont été partagées avec les collèges pour le moment :

Région de Montréal : 514 864-9191 | Ailleurs au Québec (sans frais) : 1 877 864-9191 | De l’extérieur du Québec : + 1 514 864-9191

« Malgré l’annonce d’aujourd’hui, notre association est toujours disposée à travailler avec les gouvernements provincial et fédéral pour trouver une solution qui réponde à leurs besoins et qu’ils puissent tirer parti de l’expertise des collèges privés non subventionnés en matière de formation rapide, efficace et adaptée aux étudiants étrangers.

« Priver les étudiants internationaux d’un avenir au Québec, c’est priver le Québec d’une main-d’œuvre qualifiée déjà disponible en son giron. Une main-d’œuvre qui contribuerait grandement à assurer une croissance économique plus soutenue et à freiner la baisse du poids démographique et économique du Québec.


– 30 –


Ginette Gervais
ACPNS | Association des collèges privés non subventionnés


L’ACPNS est le regroupement volontaire de collèges privés non subventionnés du Québec. Elle a été créée en 1964 dans le but de promouvoir le développement de la formation professionnelle et technique privée de niveau collégial et secondaire professionnelle. Elle agit comme porte-parole officiel auprès des différentes autorités ministérielles. Elle offre à ces membres des conseils en matière de pédagogie, d’affaires étudiantes, d’affaires internationales, et assure la mise en commun de certaines ressources, le développement et la mise en place de nouveaux outils et l’amélioration des services aux étudiants et favorise les échanges et la concertation entre ses membres. Depuis 1984, les établissements d’enseignement collégial non subventionnés délivrent exclusivement des attestations d’études
collégiales (AEC).