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Recognizing Work and Life Experience

By July 13, 2015 July 15th, 2015 News

Note: In 2013, my corporation, Alternate Scene Productions Inc., was hired by Champlain College’s Continuing Education department for its social media consulting services. This led to me personally working close to Champlain’s Continuing Education staff, primarily in support of their Recognition of Acquired Competencies (RAC) services. Though I’m not employed by the college, I do feel I’ve become somewhat of a spiritual member of their team. Today, I’ve decided to share a blog post that I wrote for the college, one which promotes their RAC services, originally written for a Spanish-language website. The post was an absolute pleasure to write as it summarized everything that I loved about their services. I’m sharing it here today because I think it gives good insight into what I do for a living outside of this blog, and it’s also important, in my opinion, that people know about RAC in general – regardless of whether they sign up for Champlain’s services specifically.

Champlain College Saint-Lambert

When the Recognition of Acquired Competencies (RAC) team at Champlain College Saint-Lambert was originally founded in 2009, it was quite modest in size: it comprised of one part-time employee, simply. Since then, it’s grown to have 17 employees/professionals, with 65 content specialists when all services are factored in.

Through our work, we have the pleasure of meeting a multitude of talented individuals, from various fields, where each has their own story, goals, and challenges. What we do is simple: we tell them about a process, one which allows them to get recognition for the life and work experience they’ve accumulated thus far (towards a particular professional field). This is the RAC process, which, in our experience, most people are not aware of. It’s far more common, for example, for people to know about the traditional education model: buy books, attend class, and you’ll build up from knowing nothing about a topic to knowing it all by the end.

A RAC seminar in progress

A RAC seminar in progress

The traditional model is great for people that have little to no experience in a field; however, if an individual has a significant amount of experience, there’s another valuable option, RAC. Through the RAC process, a person can simply be evaluated for what they already know, and have the remaining bits filled by condensed, rigorous seminars and work sessions. At the end, regardless of the approach they take, they receive either an Attestation d’études collégiales (AEC), or a Diplôme d’études collégiales (DEC), depending on the service or program they selected. It should be noted that candidates don’t have to complete all competencies within the service or program if they don’t need to – they can just select those they desire (though they won’t receive an AEC or DEC).

As we hinted earlier, when we meet people at job fairs and beyond, they’re often surprised to find out that something like RAC exists. Yet, it’s so logical – if you have a significant amount of skill in a given area, and you can show us what you know – why can’t an educational institution treat that as progress towards a certificate or diploma? It’s an attractive prospect for most, provided they have enough experience to be eligible.

A RAC seminar in progress

A RAC seminar in progress

At RAC, we determine eligibility early in the process: a candidate will meet an advisor, and if they seem like a good fit for RAC, they’ll be invited to what we call a validation interview. It’s in this interview that each candidate meets with an experienced professional from the industry, and they are asked questions to challenge their knowledge. By the end, there’s a clear list of what they’re ready to be evaluated for, what they need to review, or are missing altogether.

It’s important to mention: RAC candidate can have holes in their knowledge, as long as they have a significant amount of experience overall. We find many potential candidates tend to under-estimate themselves, yet, in our experience, people generally don’t realize how much they know. Some of our candidates were originally unsure of their knowledge, and yet, they were accepted, and succeeded. This is often because people tend to absorb additional knowledge and skills throughout the course of their professional careers, even if isn’t directly related to their primary role.

And for our candidates, their goals are generally about advancing their careers– RAC is a viable way to progress, in one way or another. While motivations vary from one individual to another, usually, our candidates approach RAC to either:

  1. improve their employment prospects
  2. get promoted
  3. shift into a related field

In all of these scenarios, RAC services can be helpful: a certificate or diploma, at its core, shows to potential or existing employers that the candidate has relevant experience, validated by a Quebec college. While useful for all, this can prove especially useful for recently-arrived Canadians – it can serve as validation that they have up-to-date skills that are relevant in the Quebec job market.

Built in

An employment event where both active candidates and grads were in attendance.

Beyond the direct benefits on CV, and in turn, in an interview, RAC candidates also benefit from a built-in, natural professional networking process. At RAC seminars, evaluations, and social events, they happen to meet and network with other talented professionals. And, even when our candidates graduate, they are not forgotten – they are often invited back for these employment events, where they have a chance to get a job, if they need it. When candidates participate in the RAC process at Champlain, they don’t just enter and exit – they join a collective that will look out for them even after they leave.

RAC candidates working on an activity

RAC candidates working on an activity in Champlain’s Vaudreuil-Dorion service center

 

Flexibility is another element we like to highlight when describing Champlain’s RAC services. At the core of each service is a website which contains helpful online resources and seminar materials. There are no textbooks required with RAC at Champlain, which means candidates can review the content from home, at any given time. For seminars and evaluations, candidates generally need to visit either Champlain College Saint-Lambert, or its Vaudreuil-Dorion service center. As an example, Vaudreuil-Dorion offers seminars and evaluations for Early Childhood Education (ECE) and Special Care Counselling (SCC), and is also available as an alternate evaluation location for other services, if requested in advance. Candidates also have a choice, depending on the service, to either follow a weekend or weekday schedule – so even if they are working, they can still participate in RAC during the evenings, or on weekends. In some cases, we’ve even seen candidates stop RAC for months, leave to another country, return, and then resume right where they left off. Life sometimes has a way of complicating things, and we understand that at Champlain – our services are flexible enough to accommodate most of these cases.

Throughout the years, we’ve refined our services, and have had the pleasure of seeing many candidates achieve their goals: often, getting their first job in Quebec, or getting a promotion in their field. In 2013, our RAC expertise in this particular field was even recognized by the Quebec Government, as we were named one of four Centres of Expertise for the Recognition of Acquired Competencies (CERACs). Champlain’s CERAC supports college-level institutions in improving their RAC services.

Altogether, RAC services exist to help people get recognition for what they already know. To this end, Champlain College Saint-Lambert offers RAC services in multiple fields, including:

For more information about Champlain’s RAC services, click here.