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DSW program on hiaitus for Jan ‘07

Diana Forbes | Interrobang | News | April 10th, 2006

Low application numbers has forced Fanshawe College official to suspend the winter intake of the Developmental Service Workers program, a program that is needed to keep up with the high employment demands in Ontario's adult disability sector.

“It was a decision we made based on trends in Developmental Service Worker (DSW) for the January 2007 program,” said Emily Marcoccia, manager of Fanshawe's marketing and communications department. “Unfortunately, we just don't have enough applications.”

The college needs at least 150 applicants, which would result in 40 full-time acceptances, to go ahead , but this year the program only received 22 applications.

“DSW will still have the fall 2006 intake,” Marcoccia said, who added that all of the January 2007 applicants have been offered alternative training options, like enrolling in the fall intake. “No students currently enrolled will be affected.

“We are not leaving students out in the cold because of the suspension.”

Suspension decisions come every year at this time to correspond with the school's year-end and the college has been in talks about this decision for the past 6-8 weeks, Marcoccia said.

The college also announced that a tool and die intake in St. Thomas be suspended, and there could be more programs on the chopping block before the April 27 deadline passes.

“There will no more major announcements,” Marcoccia said concerning more various program suspensions. “But there could possibly be one or two more intakes suspended.”

Marcoccia said community people have been speculating that the low starting salary in the developmental services profession may have caused the lack of enrollment. “Their jobs are tough,” she said. There is a lot of hard work, caring and compassion that goes with these jobs.”

Graduates of the DSW program are trained assisting disabled people of all ages with accommodation, education and employment. They also have training in counselling, advocacy, health and pharmacology.

But the industry is starving for people who are properly trained in working with disabled adults, and Fanshawe's DSW program is the largest in the province.

Glen Walker, vice-chairperson of the DSW program advisory committee, told the London Free Press that there is a staffing shortage and there has been problems “filling the void.”

Marcoccia said this type of disinterest is regularly seen in the skilled trade programs, but rarely in the Human Services division, especially since Fanshawe's marketing department has been “aggressively” promoting DSW to high school students over the past six months.

She said they are researching their marketing options for the DSW program, with the possibility of recruiting more mature students.

With no students to teach, DSW faculty members may also be concerned with their future at the college.

“I don't believe fulltime hours will be impacted,” Marcoccia said about the suspension's effect on teaching staff, although she added that those decisions have yet to be determined.
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