WABE Response Regarding SAIT BXST Program Suspension

Dear WABE Friends,

We were saddened to hear the news yesterday that the Broadcast Systems Technology program at SAIT is not being offered in the fall due to low enrollment and that the program has been suspended. The program was the only one left in Canada which would specifically train Broadcast Technologists to support the Broadcasting, streaming stations, equipment supply vendors and support companies across Canada. All TV and radio broadcasters, as well as ISED, all have SAIT grads working for them. These grads work in many different industries including live sports, theatre, mobiles, streaming, and cable. We have confirmed that the current students will continue to be supported and will obtain their diplomas but there will no longer be any new intakes for this program.

We fail to understand why this decision was made without consultation as the broadcast industry continues to grow with over 790 TV stations operating in Canada (Ref), and 960+ radio stations (up from 830 in 2007) (Ref), and the Digital Media industry being one of the fastest growing in Canada. Yet, we continue to see the challenges associated with sustaining programs Canada-wide and attracting the necessary applicants to make these programs viable, with SAIT being of these circumstances.

According to the SAIT Board of Governors Mandate And Roles document, of which SAIT administration fully supports:

“SAIT is committed to building and nurturing strong business and industry partnerships and to serving the employment needs of key Industry sectors: energy, business, communication, construction, health, information technologies, manufacturers & automation, MEDIA, public service and safety, tourism and transportation…”

We understand the decision was hard to make but it does not appear to support their mandate to contribute to economic development by helping foster and maintain a skilled and productive workforce through programs designed, developed and delivered in close consultation with industry, through the use of advisory committees. (ref)

WABE has always worked closely with SAIT by facilitating scholarships, and training seminars and were shocked as neither the faculty nor industry was consulted on this decision even though SAIT’s advisory committees would regularly meet to discuss the needs of industry. We hope that this ‘suspension’ of the program will allow for consultation with the industry as to how we can fill the training gap in the future as a large portion of the broadcast engineers will be looking into retirement in the next few years and without the training required it will put the onus on industry to train from scratch, potentially lowering the quality services provided to Canadians.

What can you do to help? Please reach out to SAIT and share the importance of this program to our industry. Maybe with more voice and attention they can understand the need for this program across Canada before they do more than suspend the program.
David Williams, Executive Director, Advanced Education. David.E.Williams@gov.ab.ca

Raynie Wood, Dean ICT: raynie.wood@sait.ca

David Ross, President and CEO SAIT: david.ross@sait.ca
Thank You,

Clint Hollinger
WABE President