Snapshot of success: Continuing Education & Corporate Training at Northern Lakes College

Thu, Jan 05,2017 @ 12:54 PM
by Greg Marsello |

Businessman-using-ROI-Return-on-Investment-indicator-489982076_704x499.jpegA continuing education program’s staff productivity number is one of the most critical benchmarks when measuring a program’s success. Staff productivity is determined by dividing income generated by full-time equivalent staff.

So, $1 million in income/10 full-time equivalent staff = a staff productivity number of $100,000.

The industry benchmark is $125,000 with the most successful programs at $150,000 to $250,000.

Continuing Education & Corporate Training (CECT) at Northern Lakes College (NLC) in Alberta, Canada is responsible for 25 percent of Alberta’s territory, but only 4 percent of the population. With 8.5 full-time equivalent staff, CECT generates $2.2 million, thus has a $260,000 staff productivity number. Amazing!

During a Program Review, LERN’s most comprehensive analysis of a continuing education program, of CECT, I learned CECT’s secrets.

Most importantly CECT’s staff is dedicated to the mission of NLC, but understand without money, providing mission activities is challenging. Staff work tirelessly building NLC and local partnerships, thus they are included in strategic planning and decision-making.

CECT understands the future of continuing education is online certificate programs, thus they are developing and delivering LIVE Online & Extension Certificates. The certificate programs are designed to allow students to learn skills critical for finding jobs and improving in the workplace, and being online makes reaching NLC’s territory affordable and accessible.

In order to be able to provide the programming and contracts requested, CECT has built a stable of contract and contract employee instructors who can be flexible with their time and provide the industry experience continuing education students value. Although NLC faculty can teach for CECT, CECT is not obligated to use faculty, thus have the ability to offer open enrollment courses and contracts at a more market-supported price.

But, CECT is not resting on their laurels. Chair Rachel Ouellette and her team are dedicated to continuous improvement and contracted for a LERN Program Review to help position CECT for the next five years. The CECT Team shared data, information and materials and I had the opportunity to travel to Slave Lake, Alberta and spend two days with this energetic and accomplished group.

From the Program Review came recommendations to NLC to be realistic about an expected operating margin, the importance of investing surplus back into growing CECT, strategies for allowing revenue generators to focus on revenue generation, feedback to NLC about not moving CECT admissions staff to work under the Registrar, strategies for better utilizing marketing monies, the right data to collect and analyze, and much more. The Program Review provide CECT a roadmap to follow going forward.

Most impressive was NLC’s Central Administration willingness to listen to me explain why CECT is successful, the challenges facing CECT, and the actions NLC can take to allow CECT to provide even more programming and services. Central Administration always listens to numbers and the NLC Central Administration Team was unaware of how highly performing CECT was.

Since the Program Review the CECT Team has been working hard implementing Program Review recommendations and has been in touch with questions causing additional discussion and recommendations. CECT is positioned for the next five years for providing quality programming and service to the NLC territory. Good show CECT Team!

For more information on the LERN Program Review, click here or contact us at or (800) 678-5376.

Free Webinar  Program Review: Position Your Unit for Success  2 p.m. ET  Wednesday, Dec. 6




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