While The Department of Continuing Education Act was assented to on April 21, 1972, the first departmental annual report states that the department was created following the partial proclamation of the Act on July 1, 1972. The post-secondary and vocational training functions of the Department of Education were spun off as a separate department creating Continuing Education.
Gordon S. MacMurchy had been serving as Minister of Education prior to the split. The enabling legislation states that the Minister of Education would also serve as minister of the new department. Accordingly, MacMurchy continued to serve as both Minister of Education and minister of the new Department of Continuing Education to which he was officially appointed on April 21, 1972. He represented both departments until November 5, 1975. Ed Tchorzewski took over as minister of both departments at that time but a year later the portfolio for the Department of Continuing Education was given to Donald Faris.
The three major branches of the newly formed department were:
Colleges Branch which was responsible for community college and adult education development. This included operational coordination for the Saskatchewan Technical Institute (STI) in Moose Jaw and the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Arts & Sciences (SIAAS) campuses in Regina and Saskatoon through the Saskatchewan Council of Institute Principals (SCIP). The principals reported directly to the Deputy Minister (DM) for most other purposes. These institutions later became the core of the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST). The department was responsible for providing a number of training programs such as the Vocational Rehabilitation for Disabled Persons (VRDP) program, a Federal-Provincial initiative that was administered jointly by several provincial government bodies.
Research and Evaluation Branch which was responsible for the investigation of program needs, program analysis, systems analysis and development requirements for operational and program planning considerations.
Administrative Services Branch which was responsible for the personnel, accounting and budgeting of the department and also provided services to the Department of Education under joint arrangement. The Student Assistance Section was also part of this branch.
The department was also responsible for administering the University Act which in 1972 meant the University of Saskatchewan. The Deputy Minister served on the Board of Governors, Senate and various planning and operations committees. The University of Regina gained independent status in 1974.
In the 1973-1974 fiscal year, the SCIP became the Saskatchewan Committee of Institute Principals.
In 1974-1975, Student Assistance moved to the Research and Evaluation Branch.
A more wide ranging re-organization took place in 1975-1976. Operations Division was created, encompassing the technical institutes, community colleges and vocational centres, as well as the Program Development Branch. An Occupational Training Division took responsibility for Canada Manpower training programs, non-registered Indian and Métis programs, the VRDP Program and registration of private trade schools. A separate branch of Student Services was created. Administrative Services and Research & Planning Branches continued to report directly to the DM. The universities reported through the Universities Commission.
Assistant Deputy Ministers appear on the 1976-1977 organizational charts, responsible for the two new divisions although the positions were likely created along with the divisions during the previous fiscal year.
In 1977-1978, Research and Planning Branch became Policy Planning and Management Information Systems Branch.
In the 1980-1981 fiscal year another major restructuring took place. The new organizational structure consisted of the following, all reporting through a single ADM to the DM: Office of Native Career Development; Policy and Program Division; Institutional Division; Administrative and Financial Services Division; Occupational Training Division; Student Services Branch.
A special project, the Prince Albert Institute Project team also reported to the Deputy Minister.
Gordon Gray Currie became the final minister of the department on May 8, 1982.
The Department of Advanced Education and Manpower Act was assented to on April 29, 1983, transforming the Department of Continuing Education into the Department of Advanced Education and Manpower.