An online vocational school sets up

A new private vocational school has been established in downtown Brandon with a mission to prepare students for careers in mental health.

LINKS Institute President and CEO John Jackson educates the school’s first group of students as part of his six-month Community Support Worker program.

It’s an online school inspired in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jackson said Friday by phone from his office in the Brandon Chamber of Commerce building in downtown Brandon.

Seeing traditional schools struggling to switch to online education inspired him to start a boutique as an online-only institution capable of attracting students from across the province.

Because they are online-based and unaffected by the pandemic, he said this provides students with more stability than in-person institutions are currently able to maintain.

Further, he added, “I hope a dedicated online program like this will help people stay in their community.”

The six-month schedule adds additional flexibility, he said.

“There may be unemployed people looking to return to work, but they don’t necessarily have the time or commitment to devote to a university or college degree.

“It’s a win-win for them, so for me there is the satisfaction of providing solutions to a problem, and I’m really interested in improving workforce development. ”

He plans to hire two more instructors and expand their offerings beyond the initial community support worker program to include a “suite of relevant mental health and related services.”

Jackson is the former executive director of Samaritan House Ministries. He holds a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing and is currently working on a doctorate.

The Community Support Worker program aims to prepare students for positions such as group home workers, addiction workers, and life skills instructor, among others.

Jackson gave Brandon City Council a presentation on the LINKS Institute at tonight’s meeting, as he said it “is relevant not only across Manitoba, but to Brandon as a community.”

“We are currently grappling with unemployment issues so I think the board would benefit from being aware of that.”

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»Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB

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