-2.3 C
Thursday, December 5, 2019
Connecting Our Communities

Funding recognizes need for tech skills


Restored Victorian home in Elmira the subject of TV competition

Along with the influx of visitors that comes with the holiday season, Elmira will see one new...

New MP jumps to the next stage

Ever since he was elected as the new Liberal Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga during the October...

Sleeping Beauty wakens to the panto treatment

The classic story of Sleeping Beauty takes on a twist – as well as a boo and...

Meet the candidates

By Veronica Reiner & Aneta Rebiszewski Five candidates are vying for your vote in...


overcast clouds
-2.3 ° C
-0.6 °
-4.4 °
74 %
90 %
3 °
-3 °
-1 °
7 °
8 °

Technical education in Waterloo Region got a huge boost this week as the federal and provincial governments announced funding for Conestoga College in excess of $72 million.

“It’s by far the biggest announcement we’ve had in the history of the college,” said president John Tibbits. “It will provide tremendous opportunity for citizens of this area.”

Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) announced a federal commitment of $38.1 million. Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Leeanna Pendergast announced $10 million in new funding from the province, on top of $24.3 million previously announced.

John Tibbits, president of Conestoga College, was delighted with the announcement of more than $72 million in government funds for the college. The money will allow Conestoga to develop more than 100 new programs over the next seven years.
John Tibbits, president of Conestoga College, was delighted with the announcement of more than $72 million in government funds for the college. The money will allow Conestoga to develop more than 100 new programs over the next seven years.

The funding comes out of the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, a two-year, $2-billion investment in infrastructure at post-secondary institutions. The federal and provincial commitments are in addition to $8.1 million recently set aside by the Region of Waterloo.

The money will be directed toward expanding programming at Conestoga’s campuses in Waterloo and Guelph and a new campus in Cambridge. Within seven years, Conestoga expects to have space for an additional 4,000 full-time students, 2,000 more apprenticeship students and more than 100 new programs of instruction.

At the Waterloo campus, the college will establish a heating, ventiliation and air conditioning (HVAC) skills training centre in partnership with the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute. In another partnership with industry, the school will create a roofing skills training centre.

In the works for the Cambridge site is a major enhancement to the School of Engineering and Information Technology and the establishment of an institute of food processing technologies.

Tibbits said the food processing institute was the brainchild of the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors. Food processing is the second largest industry in Ontario, employing 110,000 people. Much of the processing uses advanced technologies, and the industry needs trained, qualified people.

At the Guelph campus, Conestoga plans to establish a centre for alternative fuel technologies, to train technicians to repair and maintain alternative fuel vehicles.

Tibbits pointed to U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement of fuel efficiency standards as evidence of the shift to alternative fuelled vehicles.

The college’s president welcomed the investment in technological education after decades of federal money being poured into research.

“It’s about time that happened,” he said, noting that the average age of skilled tradespeople is high, and many are approaching retirement.

“Once this recession is over, there’s going to be a huge shortage of skilled people. There’s absolutely huge demand for these people now, and there’ll be greater demand in the future.”

Rapid changes in technology demand an educated workforce that is trained and literate, Tibbits said. Where it used to be possible to get a good job with a high school diploma, now 70 per cent of jobs in Waterloo Region require post-secondary education.

“We really need to invest in getting people skilled at a higher level, otherwise we’re going to have people unemployed.”

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


Strong demand for traditional real Christmas trees can exceed supply

With Christmas just a few weeks away there’s only a short time left to pick out the perfect tree, but what will you choose: real or fake? Many retailers are facing dilemmas that...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Getting drivers to slow down a slow process in Woolwich Township

Traffic issues, particularly speeding, are a frequent source of public complaints received by Woolwich officials. Often more perception than reality, the topic is...

Kings win another pair, solidify hold on first place

Seven is considered a lucky number. The Sugar Kings likely agree after putting up seven goals twice on route to a pair...

Woolwich to attach overdue water bills to property taxes in bid to simplify collections process

Looking to simplify the collection process for overdue water and sewer bills – and increase the chance of getting its hands on...

Putting the cold on ice with the annual hat and mitten toss at Saturday’s Sugar Kings game

There’ll be no need to wait until somebody scores three goals to toss hats out onto the ice, as the Elmira Sugar...

Answering the childhood question that rolls around at the holidays

Get into the Christmas spirit with a fresh retelling of a classic tale inspired by real events in Elora Community Theatre’s lastest offering.

Even those with jobs are increasingly reliant on food banks

An increasing number of full- and part-time workers across Ontario are accessing food bank services, a trend that can be seen in...
- Advertisement -