Wanted: Quality Courses and Graduates with Environmental Expertise

Angie - Test Knowles, | February-15-12



How do you know whether an environmental program meets a standard of quality?

Written by Mel Griswold, ECO Canada's Accreditation Registrar

A recent article in the Vancouver Sun (Fall 2011) highlighted how industry is starting to recognize the credentials of graduates from accredited environmental programs.  
Many people ask, “What is Accreditation?” Colin Pattison, an instructor at SAIT’s Environmental Technology Program, responds that “…it sends a signal to students and industry that what [our programs offer] actually get the students ready to enter the work world.”
Ensuring that institutions develop students with the skills and knowledge industry needs is very important in the context of global and national environmental sector trends: 

FACT: Future global spending in the environmental sector is expected to average an annual growth between 4.7% and 7.7% over the next ten years—outpacing global economic GDP growth of 5.5% (Source: BERR, UK Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform).


FACT: Nearly ½ of Canadian environmental employers plan to hire workers over the next two years (Source: ECO Canada 2010 Profile of Canadian Environmental Employment).

The Canadian environment industry is on the lookout for qualified staff, and accredited programs deliver. 

Benefits of Accreditation   

  • Identifies environmental programs with curriculum that parallels industry demand
  • Provides a framework for continually improving the quality and efficiency of environmental programs
  • Offers an objective measure of a program 
  • Facilitates school-to-work transitions for graduates
Currently, 11 universities and colleges across Canada have become accredited through ECO Canada’s National Accreditation Program, which demonstrates to students, parents, educators, and industry that these environmental programs have met a national standard. 
Colin adds that accreditation reaffirms the quality of environmental education, noting that students get a broad package of training. “The idea is we’re not making specialists, but students who have a good understanding of how all the pieces fit together in an interdisciplinary training.” This is important because the Canadian environmental sector is very diverse, made up of professionals whose skill sets touch upon everything from site assessment and reclamation to natural resources management, green house gas reporting, or policy and legislation. 
Are you looking to be at the forefront of environmental education and accredit your program?
Interested program coordinators must submit their Expression of Interest Form on or before February 28th, 2012.  Please see www.eco.ca/accreditation for more details.
Are you a student looking to start an environmental career?
Explore program options by viewing the current list of 11 accredited universities and colleges.