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April 7, 2006

Government invests in College of the North Atlantic;
Minister announces funding for expanded programs and faculty

Joan Burke, Minister of Education, announced today an investment of $3.85 million for College of the North Atlantic that will see the creation of a Program Development Unit, with 12 dedicated faculty and support staff. The unit will be located at the college headquarters in Stephenville. Funding will also be used to modernize equipment, expand programming and provide advanced faculty training.

"Education is playing a key role in government�s agenda of growth and prosperity for Newfoundland and Labrador," said Minister Burke. "The college, and each of its 17 campuses, is on the front-lines of developing the workforce that will help move our province forward. Our commitments outlined in Budget 2006 will provide a tremendous boost for the college and its ability to deliver programming that is second to none in the country."

The minister provided details on the following initiatives:

  • $1 million to establish a Program Development Unit to research, review and implement new programming initiatives in various regions;
  • $1 million for an Apprenticeship Shop Modernization Program to address a gap between existing training equipment and current technology;
  • $1 million to support the development of two new high technology programs targeted at the oil and gas sector;
  • $650,000 for the expansion of the Comprehensive Arts and Science College Transition Program to five additional campuses; and,
  • $200,000 for enhanced training for CNA faculty to ensure a level of technical expertise that keeps pace with business and industry requirements
  • Colin Forward is dean of industrial trades for the college. "The interest and demand for skilled trades in recent years has placed a greater onus on the college to ensure we are delivering programs that are relevant for our students and industry. This funding will help the college acquire state-of-the-art equipment and ensure our faculty has the technical expertise that keeps pace with business and industry requirements."

    "Today�s announcement is great news for both our province and our town. In addition to advancements in our post-secondary education system, I am also very pleased to see new related employment in Stephenville," said Jim Hodder, MHA for the district of Port au Port.

    Improving the skills and qualifications of workers improves the productivity of businesses and helps them to compete in the global economy. Building our province�s skills base, therefore, has become a key economic challenge, especially in light of demographic changes and migration trends.

    "As emphasized in our White Paper on Postsecondary Education and again in the newly announced Innovation Strategy, a skilled and educated workforce is essential to help our province compete and lead on a global scale. We fully recognize that our post-secondary institutions must keep pace in program offerings and technological prowess," said the Minister. "Today�s announcement is a tremendous boost that supports the college in its work to offer distinctive, high quality skills training programs that meet current and future labour market needs."

    These initiatives will ensure the college is responsive to the province�s skills agenda. They also complement other Budget 2006 initiatives, such as the Skills Task Force and new skills and technology curriculum and equipment in the K-12 education system.

    Media contact: Jacquelyn Howard, Communications (709) 729-0048, 689-2624



    Program Development Unit
    Resources specifically targeted to program development are critical as the College of the North Atlantic moves to align itself more closely with the social and economic development agenda of the province. Funding for program development was significantly reduced from the mid-nineties to 2001. Government recognizes the importance of dedicated expertise to ensure quality programs that are current and relate to industry and general labour market needs.

    The college needs to grow and support its campuses, particularly in areas where the population and post-secondary education needs are expanding. Funding allocated in Budget 2006 will establish a Program Development Unit that will seek out new programming opportunities and undertake reviews of the college's current program mix to ensure that all curriculum is in step with industry requirements - now and into the future.

    The unit will be comprised of 12 positions, including program developers, a researcher, quality coordinator and support staff. It is anticipated the unit will be fully staffed and operational summer 2006.

    Apprenticeship Shop Modernization Program
    With campuses being built as early as 1963, many of College of the North Atlantic�s industrial trade shops are in need of modernization or refurbishment. Funding will provide the purchase of new equipment in keeping with current technology now used in the workforce and by industry. There is also a gap in the training equipment being used in the shops and current technology. State-of-the-art technology is critical to providing employers with graduates who are ready and able to contribute to the workplace.

    High Technology Program Development, Oil and Gas Sector
    Opportunities exist for new training capacity in engineering technology, particularly for programs targeted at the oil and gas sector. Initial discussions would be focused on the development of chemical and processing technology programs. A needs assessment process will determine where best to target new program areas to support the growth in the province�s resource sectors.

    Comprehensive Arts and Science College Transition Program (CAS)
    In September 2005, as part of the white paper initiative, College of the North Atlantic implemented a new post-secondary transition program that provided high school and ABE graduates lacking either the academic courses or required grades to meet the college�s admission requirements an opportunity to upgrade and make the transition to other college programs. The feedback from the pilot has been extremely positive. The additional $650,000 announced today will enable the program to be offered at five additional campuses (Placentia, Bay St. George, Baie Verte, Gander and Carbonear), helping, at a minimum, a further 75 students.

    Faculty Upgrading
    Faculty at College of the North Atlantic require a significant level of upgrading and professional development in order to deliver training to students that meets the needs of the current and future labour market. With approximately 800 faculty members and over 90 post-secondary programs the need in this area is significant and has not been sufficiently or strategically addressed in recent years.

    In an increasingly competitive educational market, College of the North Atlantic is challenged to be more deliberate in their plans to provide faculty upgrading and professional development opportunities, especially in light of anticipated faculty retirements and the subsequent loss of institutional expertise and knowledge. Enhanced faculty training is required to keep up with the demands of program accreditation, curriculum revisions, and the depth of technical and advanced skills required to keep programs current. New equipment and related technologies require a level of technical expertise that would not even have existed when many faculty members participated in their own program of studies at the career entry level.

    2006 04 07                                             11:10 a.m.

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