Post-secondary education and Alberta’s Recovery Plan

Demetrios Nicolaides
Minister of Advanced Education

Alberta is facing an unprecedented challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global economic slowdown and the collapse in global oil prices has hit Alberta especially hard. To overcome this challenge, Alberta’s government has developed a comprehensive response. It’s called Alberta’s Recovery Plan.

Alberta’s Recovery Plan is an ambitious plan to create jobs, build and diversify. A key component of this plan is building core infrastructure that creates immediate new jobs for Albertans and benefits our communities. This year, Alberta will see its largest ever investment in the province’s infrastructure. More than $10 billion is being spent on projects in every corner of the province, creating 50,000 jobs.

This includes $100 million for Alberta’s post-secondary institutions, including our local colleges. Our comprehensive community colleges are an essential pillar of Alberta’s adult learning system. They provide local training opportunities to address local needs, whether that’s nurses and teachers, or farmers and welders.

For instance, over $20 million was provided to Olds College for necessary upgrades to its Animal Science Building and Ag-Tech Learning Hub. Over $17 million was provided to Lakeland College to continue the revitalization of its Vermilion campus. Additional capital maintenance and renewal initiatives will begin at post-secondary institutions in Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Red Deer and Banff as a direct result of Alberta’s Recovery Plan. These important renewal and revitalization projects will ensure our students are able to study in state of the art classrooms and laboratories right in their own backyard.

These important investments demonstrate our government’s commitment to high quality post-secondary opportunities for all Albertans. It is not feasible, nor desirable, to have students travel to Edmonton or Calgary for their post-secondary needs. Greater work must be done to ensure all learners, particularly those in remote communities, have access to post-secondary education.

While upgrading facilities will address immediate challenges, we must also plan for the future and that is why we have begun developing a vision for our post-secondary system. We’re calling it Alberta 2030. It is imperative that our students are ready for the workplace of tomorrow. We will ask and answer important questions about post-sec. education. We will ask about enrolment and participation, while taking time to understand the needs and concerns of rural Alberta. We must explore how we can ensure students have access to high quality educational opportunities, in their own backyard.

We are almost ready to begin developing this new vision that will include many opportunities for all Albertans to provide their thoughts and comments. There will be one-on-one interviews with leaders from our colleges, town halls, workshops, roundtables and an online portal so that everyone can contribute to this important discussion. In short, we want to hear from you.

We must find new ways to respond to labour market needs, strengthen access and most importantly of all, we must ensure we do everything possible to equip our youth with the skills and knowledge they need to adapt in our fast-paced and increasingly global economy. Our youth are our most valuable asset when it comes to preparing for the future of work.

Alberta’s Recovery Plan will help get Albertans back to work, build and diversify and with our strong post-secondary strategy, we will ensure rural Albertans have access to high quality education right in their own backyard.

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