Online Vocational School Sets Up – Brandon Sun

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This article was published 04/19/2021 (489 days ago), so the information it contains may no longer be up to date.

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 teaches the school’s first batch of students his six-month Community Support Worker program.

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

Tyler Clarke / Brandon Sun LINKS Institute President and CEO John Jackson is seen in downtown Brandon on Friday. The private vocational institute is new to town and offers online programming to students across the province.

Watching traditional schools struggle to transition to online education inspired it to establish itself as an online-only institution capable of attracting students from across the province.

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

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

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

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

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

It plans to hire two additional 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 preparing a doctorate.

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

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

“We are struggling with unemployment issues at the moment, so I think the council would benefit from being aware of that.”

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Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB

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