By: Zac Rankin

Paul Brennan, vice-president of international program development for the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, praised Algonquin’s leadership.

Soon Algonquin will announce that it will offer the college’s leadership development program to its Caribbean counterparts.

Gerry Barker, Algonquin’s vice-president of human resources has just returned from Jamaica where he gave a keynote address at the 22nd conference and annual general meeting of the Association of Caribbean Tertiary Institutions (ACTI). Barker’s address, Succession Planning: A Top Leadership Priority, focused on how Algonquin identifies and develops its future leaders.

Algonquin’s offer will be part of the larger Caribbean Community Education for Employment Program (CEFE). Funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), it is a five-year program implemented by the Canadian Association of Community Colleges (ACCC) in collaboration with several Caribbean partners. According to their program brochure its goal is to “increase economic growth through the development of a more competitive, productive and gender equitable workforce in the Caribbean.”

“Succession planning is a pressing issue for colleges throughout the Caribbean,” said vice-president of international partnerships at ACCC Paul Brennan. “The mandatory retirement age is 60 and many of the Caribbean’s best leaders immigrate to the US and Canada.”

Barker’s speech to the ACTI outlined how Algonquin developed its program after a demographic analysis revealed that 35 per cent of the administrative personnel were eligible to retire in five years.

In 30 months, the college transformed its ad hoc approach to succession planning to a formal program.
“They have a very systematic program for identifying potential leaders and providing them with the training and mentorship to ensure that they are ready when the time comes,” said Brennan.

“Algonquin President Kent MacDonald along with five of the college’s vice-presidents are products of our program,” said Barker.

“(Algonquin) have spent a lot of money and time developing their program,” said Brennan, “and we appreciate them making it available to Caribbean colleges. It will be successful if a few colleges take the Algonquin curriculum and adapt to their own needs and culture.”

“Success won’t be easy,” Brennan said. “This kind of program is new, and doing something new is difficult for anyone. And the current leadership may not see preparing their successors as an urgent issue and even if they do, they may lack the resources to follow through.”

Barker is expecting his visit to result in partnership agreements between Algonquin and various Caribbean colleges. At that point the exact nature and extent of Algonquin’s assistance will be determined.

“We are looking forward to continuing dialogue and communication,” said Barker.