Recently the Alberta Solicitor General’s Department started requiring anyone who wished to be employed as a Security Guard, Loss Prevention Officer, Body Guard, In-House Security Personnel, Dog Patroller, or Alarm Responder to complete its new Alberta Basic Security Training (ABST) course and then pass a new provincial exam. Although individuals who are already employed in this industry are not affected, all new personnel are required to complete this training and exam. There are some 10,000 people working in this field in Alberta.
An individual who needs this training can attend classes at a number of locations throughout Alberta including Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Calgary. However each town and city does not have a training provider. So the Alberta Solicitor General decided to also approve Columbia College in Calgary to deliver the course over the internet. And even though completion rates and pass rates tend to be low in this form of education, it seems Columbia is having great success. Since it started providing online education on June 1, 86% of its students have passed the provincial exam. What is also interesting is that Columbia College is offering this internet based course for free and it receives no government funding. All students need to pay is $99 to write the provincial exam. Other providers are charging as much as 600 dollars.
Gazmend Begaj who passed his provincial Alberta Basic Security Training this summer was relieved when he got his results. This meant he could work in the field of security while completing his two year diploma in Criminal Justice at Columbia. “It means I can start working in the field and get some real life experience,” said Gazmend. “It also means getting some extra bucks to pay the never ending bills I face”. He went on to say “probably the greatest benefit will be to start connecting with employers. This will allow me to start networking in this industry. I hope if I do a good enough job, I will get a reference for future employment.”
Laura Trettwer, the Program Coordinator at Columbia College said, “you know we really worked hard to get it all just right when the program was being designed. We kept on changing this feature and that feature trying to make it even better. It was sure worth it in the end when we got an overall success rate of 86% on the provincial exam. We are ecstatic” she said.
“We wanted to produce a high quality educational product for free and that’s exactly what we did” said Dr. J.T. (Tom) Snell, President of Columbia College. It may not be a perfect course, but, WOW, it certainly has got the results that are among the best in the industry.”
Dr. Snell went on to say that this is the first of many free web-based educational products that Columbia College is developing.