Durham College recognized as a Greater Toronto Top Employer for eleventh year

Durham College (DC) is proud to announce it has once again been named one of Greater Toronto’s Top Employers for 2022. Awarded to organizations for their progressive, forward-thinking employee programs, this marks the eleventh time the college has received this honour.

Among the many reasons for selection as a Top Employer, DC was specifically recognized for its diversity and inclusion – 65 per cent of its executive team are women – as well as its family-friendly policies and excellent maternity and parental leave benefits, including paid leave for mothers, 35 weeks of paid leave for partners and adoptive parents, and 93 per cent salary top up benefits.

The selection committee also acknowledged other employee supports offered by DC, including tuition assistance for employees and their dependents, a defined benefit pension plan with employer-matched contributions and a new remote work policy, which supports the option for some roles to continue operating remotely in a hybrid capacity beyond the pandemic.

It was also noted support does not stop once a DC employee retires. From retirement planning assistance prior to their departure to maintaining the connection between retired employees and the college through the Retiree Association, DC encourages and helps its employees at every stage of their career, from those just starting out, to those ready to transition into the next chapter of their lives.

“We owe so much of our success as a post-secondary institution to our employees, whose dedication, passion and expertise provide our students with an exceptional education and college experience,” said Don Lovisa, president, DC. “Ensuring their professional fulfillment and personal well-being is a top priority, as we are only as strong as our people and together, we are leading the way.”

Greater Toronto’s Top Employers is an annual competition organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. This special designation recognizes Greater Toronto Area employers who lead their industries by offering exceptional places to work. Organizations are judged on several criteria including physical workplace; work and social atmosphere; health, financial and family benefits; vacation and time off; employee communications; performance management; training and skills development; and community involvement. Employers are compared to other organizations in their sector to determine which offer the most progressive and forward-thinking programs. 

More information can be found on DC’s Greater Toronto Top Employers profile.

DC Advertising students support DRPS human trafficking awareness campaign

As part of its effort to provide the best student experience, Durham College (DC) fosters strong connections with a variety of local partners, offering students the opportunity to put theory into practice while completing their programs. In the School of Media, Art & Design (MAD), students learn to establish and maintain client relationships by collaborating with community partners, quite often on real-life challenges and opportunities.

One such partnership led to a creative solution that helped address a serious issue – human trafficking. Through a collaboration with the Durham Regional Police Services (DRPS) Human Trafficking Unit (HTU), Advertising and Marketing Communications students worked to raise awareness in the community with the design and creation of an informative hotel card.

“The Advertising and Marketing Communications Program prides itself in providing promotional support to local business, not-for-profit and public service sectors. For this reason, a key component of the curriculum has students working alongside community partners to develop and implement effective communication strategies and programs,” says Dawn Salter, professor and program coordinator, School of Media, Art & Design.

Human trafficking involves the use of force, coercion or fraud to influence the movements of a person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour. Unfortunately, a number of human trafficking cases occur in our very own community, with aggressors often operating in local hotels throughout Durham Region.

Victims of human trafficking often have no possessions and are left to spend time alone in hotel rooms. As part of a DRPS initiative, DC students Lauren Crummey and Raphael Maturine leveraged input from over 50 of their peers to develop an ingenious solution that provides vital information to victims but can go undetected by traffickers. Disguised to look like a spa brochure, the students created a hotel card for victims that contains important information for various support services, in a subtle, yet impactful way.

“It was amazing to see how addressing a real-life, close-to-home matter sparked such interest and enthusiasm among the students,” says Dawn. “The opportunity to be part of an important initiative and make a valuable contribution to their community made such an impact. Involvement meant so much more than just getting a good grade.” 

MAD has been fortunate to work with the DRPS human trafficking unit since 2019, and has hosted HTU members and survivors as guest speakers on a number of occasions to raise awareness.

Students Lauren and Raphael shared their experience working on this important initiative in a special interview on our blog.

DC opens its digital doors to more than 2,700 prospective students at Spring Virtual Open House

On March 27, more than 2,700 prospective students and their families from 124 countries across the globe got a taste of the Durham College (DC) experience during the college’s immersive Virtual Open House event.

Through informative live program information and student support services sessions, visitors had the opportunity to ask questions about DC’s more than 140 market-driven programs and learned about financing their education, living on campus, career outcomes and everything in between.

Guided virtual tours of campus spaces, including learning environments, residence and wellness facilities, allowed visitors to envision themselves at DC. Attendees also had the chance to enter to win a $3,000 tuition credit.

Since last year, DC has welcomed more than 7,800 visitors to virtual student recruitment events and information sessions, providing the opportunity to create the meaningful connections between visitors and DC community members that are a hallmark of the college’s pre-pandemic in-person events.

For more information on applying to DC and upcoming student recruitment events, please visit www.durhamcollege.ca/student-recruitment or reach out to recruitment@durhamcollege.ca.

DC’s Enactus team wins 2021 Central Canada Regional Championship

The Durham College (DC) Enactus team, EnactusDC, recently won its first-ever regional championship at the 2021 Enactus Canada Regional Exposition in the Scotiabank Climate Action Challenge, for Project 3eeHive.

A branded apparel social enterprise, Project 3eeHive is focused on education, empowering consumers, and collectively restoring bee habitats.

“I’m extremely proud of our team’s commitment this year despite the obstacles we faced,” said Heather Brown, student president of EnactusDC, who just finished her third year with the team. “Because of COVID we had to shift to virtual operations in March 2020 and were one of the few student Enactus teams to continue operating during the pandemic. However, the culture we’ve built has kept us going. This win reinforces our commitment to the competition, as well as social enterprise, and demonstrates our drive to make sustainable change.”

The team now moves on to the Enactus National Exposition, where 66 teams from colleges and universities across Canada will compete.

“Being a member of the DC Enactus team has been an incredible opportunity for me to put everything I’ve learned from my program to the test,” said Cameron Billingham, a second-year Photography student. “It’s been a fantastic way for me to meet and work with a great group of people and I’m excited for the next stage of the competition.”

Enactus is an international non-profit dedicated to creating social change through entrepreneurship. DC’s chapter launched in 2016 through FastStart DC and is comprised of student leaders looking to make positive social impacts in the community.

For more information on how to get involved with EnactusDC, visit www.enactusdc.com.

DC supporting Ontario’s workforce in acquiring in-demand skills with new micro-credential

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce its latest micro-credential, Ultrasonic Testing Level II. Designed to meet the demands of industry by quickly teaching highly sought-after skills, DC is the only college in Ontario to offer this level of qualifying certification for the in-demand field of Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE).

Offered through the college’s School of Science & Engineering Technology (SET), the development of Ultrasonic Testing Level II micro-credential is an example of the strong link that exists between post-secondary institutions and industry.

“Initially we were approached by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to offer the ultrasonic testing training to its employees,” said Michelle Hutt, executive dean, SET. “As we anticipate the demand for qualified NDE inspectors will continue to grow based on expected retirements and, thanks to the college’s expert faculty and specialized laboratory testing equipment, we are well-positioned to teach these skills.”

“DC’s School of Science & Engineering Technology offers high-calibre training in an industrial setting, led by facilitators who ensure the training meets the type of performance excellence demanded by our industry,” said Scott Burns, Vice President, Emergency Services and Training, OPG. “The long-standing educational partnership between OPG and DC continues to add value to our training programs as well as to the skill development of our employees.”

After agreeing to train OPG’s employees, DC made the decision to offer the Ultrasonic Testing Level II micro-credential more broadly.

“It is important to teach students methods that industry demands they know,” said Hutt. “Within the NDE field, employers will not consider job applicants without non-destructive testing (NDT) certification from the Canadian General Standards Board. When compared to other non-destructive testing (NDT) methods, ultrasonic testing is the most cost-effective, however, it is a skill that requires a specialized learning environment.”

Designed to help those studying to be an NDE professional, as well as those currently working in the industry quickly develop their skills, successful completion of the micro-credential will mean that they meet the educational requirements to be eligible to write the Level II Ultrasonic Testing (UT) certification exam.

Developed following a rigorous quality assurance process, the micro-credential requires students to complete case studies and hands-on laboratory applications to build their competencies, confidence and employability. 

DC and OPG renew successful longstanding partnership

Durham College (DC) is pleased to announce Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) continued championing of skilled trades development and training thanks to a $500,000 donation provided through OPG’s Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability (CCNS). The funds are supporting the ongoing construction of DC’s Whitby Campus Expansion project.

“We are excited to continue our longstanding relationship with OPG,” said Don Lovisa, President, Durham College. “As a key player in the skilled trades industry, they truly understand the importance of training the next generation of tradespeople. In choosing to direct funds to the college’s latest capital project, which will see an additional 750 seats added at the Whitby campus, they are helping DC continue our tradition of educational excellence, while also ensuring there is a pipeline of qualified graduates to support the success of the nuclear industry as a whole and help OPG achieve their organizational goals.”

OPG recently opened the CCNS, a world-class facility that will attract skilled jobs, innovative businesses, and economic development to the Durham Region. Whether working on collaborative research or planning for the decommissioning of the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station, one the CCNS goals is to create jobs to benefit Ontario’s economy, including a variety of skilled trades roles. As such, supporting DC’s efforts to increase its educational capabilities in those related fields, through capital development, is a natural fit.

“OPG and the CCNS, is extremely proud to support Durham College’s latest capital project,” said Carla Carmichael, Vice President, Nuclear Decommissioning Strategies. “Investing in this state-of-the-art facility, designed for hands-on learning, is just the latest milestone in our funding partnership with the college.”

In addition to the latest $500,000 contribution, the 15-year partnership with DC has resulted in more than $5.5 million to support numerous initiatives and programs throughout the college. These include the development of DC’s first-ever Boiler and X-ray labs, funding towards specialized pre-apprenticeship programs, purchasing of specialized equipment and instruments for numerous other technology labs, sponsoring the Young Women in Science Technology and Trades Conference, establishing paid internship and co-op programs at OPG, and funding student scholarships and bursaries.

In return, the college has been able to support OPG through training for its own employees, as they seek to find innovative solutions for the nuclear industry.

“For more then 15 years, DC has played a key role in meeting OPG’s needs for well-educated and enthusiastic people to join our company or work on our capital projects, such as the Darlington Station Nuclear Refurbishment Project,” said Carmichael. “We believe this investment is beneficial for both entities as it creates opportunities for students, who as graduates will help support the CCNS’ mission and sustain a skilled workforce needed for the industry’s future projects.”

Durham College and Ontario Tech University celebrate successful Campus Food Drive

Thanks to the generosity of the Durham College and Ontario Tech University communities, the 2020 Campus Food Drive raised more than $22,000 to help 384 students in need.

“In a year like no other, we are grateful for the continued support from our employees and their dedication to our students during the holiday season,” says Kevin Griffin, professor in the School of Justice and Emergency Services at DC and co-chair of the Campus Food Drive. “During a particularly challenging year for our students, our employees once again came through – and although we couldn’t accept food donations and pack hampers this year, we were still able to support our students through fundraising efforts for the new Campus Food Drive bursary.”

The food drive bursary supported qualifying full-time students (married/sole support) with families, and students who are living away from home and experiencing food insecurity.

“Food insecurity is an unfortunate reality for some,” says Kevin. “Although the Campus Food Drive efforts may look different moving forward, the goal and the spirit of the initiative remains the same. We hope that this bursary will continue to be an important part of assisting students in need in the future.”

The Campus Food Drive is an annual campaign organized by Durham College and Ontario Tech with support from employees, alumni, students and community members.

DC researcher leads co-design of youth-led housing hub model for youth living on their own

Old enough to live on their own but too young to receive social assistance directly, Ontario’s Trusteed Youth (TY) face challenges no child should.

Through a two-year research project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) through the College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF), Durham College (DC) researcher Lorraine Closs found that TY often face precarious housing situations and homelessness, food insecurity, mental and physical health concerns and more. These issues are largely due to the challenge of navigating a complex and overburdened social services system and lack of safe and affordable housing options.

TY represent a unique and particularly vulnerable population, relying on a community agency to act as their “trustee” so they can collect Ontario Works assistance. They live alone without the opportunity to approach independence in a gradual and supported manner, and lack suitable role models and guidance that would generally be provided in a family setting.

Established in partnership with the Regional Municipality of Durham, Durham District School Board, Durham Mental Health Services, Boys and Girls Club of Durham, and the John Howard Society of Canada, the DC applied research project, which concluded in December, has resulted in the development of a ground-breaking alternative housing hub model co-designed for youth, by youth. It has also provided valuable insight into how the system can best meet the needs of TY while informing future policy recommendations for supporting youth living on their own.

“By directly involving trusteed youth in the development of this housing hub, we were able to support their needs, while also helping them improve their knowledge of the service system and increase their sense of personal competency and possibilities for the future,” said Closs, who also teaches at the college in the Social Service Worker program. “It’s our hope that the insights and recommendations developed as a result of this valuable research will help inform service design and delivery here at home and across the country, and that this project will become a catalyst in ensuring brighter futures for our trusteed youth.”

During the project, Closs gathered survey feedback from 43 current TY, as well as 30 service providers from 22 agencies across the region to better understand the obstacles facing both groups. With this data, she hosted three in-person co-design sessions and a virtual consensus building session with community service providers and TY. At these sessions, they co-designed the youth housing hub model and strategized policies that would improve the coordination and collaboration of services for youth living on their own.

“The Region of Durham is committed to ending chronic homelessness in our community,” said commissioner of social services, Stella Danos-Papaconstantinou. “We know that the needs of youth who experience precarious housing and homelessness are different than those of adults. This research amplifies the voices of vulnerable Durham youth and the service providers working with them to co-design a transitional, supportive housing model.  We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Durham College on this applied research and bring data, rigor and the voice of youth to proposed housing solutions inspired by their experiences.”

Other recommendations that came out of the research include:

  • Bundling services for youth by creating school hubs.
  • Creating drop-in style supports to by-pass complex referral and waitlist processes.
  • Intervention services for landlord disputes and funding incentives for landlords who rent to youth.
  • A designated case worker assigned to TY to help navigate the service system.
  • Flexibility around communication options for youth to access service supports.
  • Access to free transportation for youth.
  • Affordable, safe transitional housing options to prevent the onset of chronic homelessness.
  • Improved process for changing schools without parental consent.
  • Life skills guidance for the seamless transition from adolescence to adulthood.
  • Inclusion of youth in the development of youth services.

The full research report, including key findings, implications and recommendations are available to view online, in addition to a short film that was produced to disseminate the findings of the research.

This project was proudly supported by DC’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ORSIE). ORSIE provides support to social innovation projects through access to funding opportunities, faculty expertise, state-of-the-art research facilities, and student learning experiences. In partnership with industry and community agencies, applied research projects are carried out by DC faculty experts and students and administered by ORSIE. To connect with ORSIE, please reach out online.

DC launches two new degree programs and graduate certificate for in-demand jobs

Durham College (DC) has received consent from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to offer two new degree programs which will address labour shortages being experienced in two of Canada’s hottest job sectors – construction management and artificial intelligence.

Following the success of DC’s first degree programs launched in 2017 and 2019, the new Honours Bachelor of Construction Management (HBCM) and Honours Bachelor of Artificial Intelligence (HBAI) are currently accepting applications for September 2021.

“Now more than ever, our construction and technology sectors need skilled workers who can take on specialist roles right out of the gate as the infrastructure of both our digital and physical world evolves and advances,” says Dr. Elaine Popp, executive vice president, Academic. “Graduates of these degree programs will be in-demand, armed with the necessary skills to create meaningful change in their industries and solve complex, real-world problems while contributing to Ontario’s economic future.”

The HBCM program is the first DC program to be offered collaboratively across three of the college’s academic schools, including the Schools of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship & Renewable Technology (START); Science & Engineering Technology (SET); and Business, IT & Management (BITM). Through this multi-disciplinary approach, students will gain a firm grounding in the theory, principles, and practices of construction science as well as the business acumen and leadership skills to effectively facilitate the management of construction projects to successful completion, with the opportunity to synthesize their learning through two 14-week field placements.

Offered through BITM, students in the HBAI program will focus on learning technical theory with an emphasis on Machine Learning (ML) and Deep Learning, as well as the legal, social and corporate responsibility that comes with designing and developing AI-driven solutions. A field placement and capstone project will guide students in project management and assist in the development of critical and analytical thinking skills.

“The next generation of graduates are entering a workforce that requires a unique skillset – one that favours innovation, leadership and problem-solving,” says Don Lovisa, president.  “The work done by our researchers and experts in our AI Hub over the past several years, including launching an AI graduate certificate in 2019, has well-positioned Durham College as the natural choice for training the next cohort of leaders in machine learning and AI implementation. In addition, our excellence in trades education puts the futures of tomorrow’s construction professionals in great hands.”

In addition to the degree programs, DC has also launched a new graduate certificate in Pharmaceutical Science for students with previous post-secondary experience. In this three-semester program, students will prepare for a career in Canada’s strong pharmaceutical sector, a rewarding field that is seeing continuous job growth and demand. Featuring a 240-hour field placement, this program will set graduates on the path for a life-changing career that allows them to make a positive impact in the lives of millions of Canadians who rely on pharmaceutical products to improve and maintain their health, while helping to ensure access to better, safer drugs and consumer products. This new program will compliment DC’s current pharmaceutical and food science advanced diploma program offered through the School of Science & Engineering Technology.

Learn more about these exciting new programs at DC’s Program Information Sessions on February 9 and 11 or Virtual Open House on Saturday, March 27.

DC’s AI Hub and W. Galen Weston Centre win Business Excellence Award from Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce

Durham College (DC) is proud to announce that its Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Solutions (the AI Hub) and W. Galen Weston Centre for Food (Weston Centre) have each received a Business Excellence Award from the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce in the categories of innovation and sustainability, respectively.

The AI Hub’s win in the innovation category highlights recent achievements and success in the local tech sector, including the planning and co-ordination of their Enable AI conference, the first of its kind in the Durham Region, and the completion of numerous unique applied research projects for small-and-medium sized businesses. 

Winning in the sustainability category, which was launched by Oshawa Power last year, the Weston Centre was recognized for its field-to-fork philosophy, as well as its diverse, environmentally friendly programs and practices. From exploring energy-efficient growing methods, while also addressing the issue of food scarcity, to planting and harvesting seasonal crops to be used in Bistro ’67, the college’s teaching-inspired restaurant, or in community shared agriculture boxes, sustainability underscores much of the Weston Centre’s operations.

“The work undertaken at the AI Hub and Weston Centre enhances all aspects of teaching and learning, while also driving growth and supporting the broader community,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “It is always incredibly gratifying when those efforts are recognized and we want to thank the chamber for its acknowledgement of our innovation and sustainability initiatives.”

Accepting the awards on behalf of the college were Kelly O’Brien, general manager, Operations, W. Galen Weston Centre for Food, and Debbie McKee Demczyk, dean, Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. 

“On behalf of the Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce, it gives me pleasure to congratulate Durham College on receiving two awards this year at our 25th Annual Business Excellence Awards,” said Nancy Shaw, CEO, Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce. “Each clearly represent excellence in education through Durham College. Congratulations!”

The Greater Oshawa Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards were established in 1995 and honour organizations that excel in all areas of business and leadership within the community.

The full awards presentation can be found online.