Marilyn Luscombe, President and CEO, New Brunswick Community College
On April 20th, a sea of green washed over NBCC’s six College regions as hundreds of NBCC students and staff flooded into their communities to take part in volunteer and service learning activities. Since launching the Robertson Institute for Community Leadership in October 2014, our College community has contributed over 20,000 volunteer hours to nearly 350 community and volunteer activities through three College-wide Service Days. These scheduled Service Day initiatives are in addition to community leadership and service learning activities throughout the school year at our NBCC campuses and corporate office.
Students from the Culinary Arts program at NBCC St. Andrews helping with a fundraising dinner, one of approximately 75 volunteer and service learning activities that over 1,000 NBCC students took part in across New Brunswick.
We have a strong tradition of community leadership at NBCC - with instructors identifying projects that help students develop their technical skills and also meet community needs. By choosing community leadership as our College’s Signature Learning Experience, we are ensuring that every single NBCC student in every program and at every campus has the opportunity to develop these skills and participate in these activities. Through these efforts we are honoring our College’s history of
experiential learning and community service, and we are formally developing our students’ competencies to enhance and transform the future of their workplaces and their communities.
The Robertson Institute for Community Leadership aligns strongly with NBCC’s vision of transforming lives and communities and our purpose as a collaborative, learner-centred College contributing to New Brunswick’s social and economic prosperity through applied learning.
Through community leadership courses, applied learning is an important pillar of the Institute. In 2014, we introduced the Support level course
which provides an introduction to service learning and volunteerism. Participants engage in a short online course, participate in community service activities and reflect on their experiences. Every NBCC student in each of our 90 regular programs completes this course before graduation. We are in the process of developing two additional levels, Build and Transform
, which will take participants on a deeper leadership journey.
The positive impact of developing skills in leadership, team work, relationship-building and problem-solving extends well beyond the individual NBCC student. It’s also good news for the employers and organizations who hire them. Between 1980 and 2012, the number of workplace tasks requiring social skills jumped 24% while those requiring math skills rose by only 11% according to Harvard Graduate School of Education associate professor David Deming’s 2015 paper The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labour Market.
Of course, the impact spreads well beyond the workplace. According to Corporate Research Associates, four in ten households in New Brunswick have a specific connection to NBCC, primarily as former students. More broadly speaking, when we look at where New Brunswickers live, 82% of them are in communities within NBCC’s six campus regions. 86% of our students stay here in New Brunswick to work – three-quarters of them stay in or return to the communities they lived in before NBCC. 95% of our registered Alumni report that they live here in the Province. When we build a culture of leadership and service among NBCC students, we strengthen that culture across the Province. As our Province’s challenges grow in complexity, this community leadership capacity and commitment will become increasingly important if we are to transform New Brunswick together. #transformNB