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Council hears presentation on post-secondary education options

By: Stacie Snow

  |  Posted: Thursday, Feb 09, 2012 06:00 am

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City council received a road map for drawing post-secondary education to Airdrie, Feb. 6.

Dianne Lougheed Keefe Inc. conducted the report at the end of 2011. One of council’s strategic goals is to “attract post-secondary education opportunities so that residents have the option to stay in the community.”

Post-secondary training opportunities in Airdrie include Bow Valley College, Rocky View Schools Community learning, the Academy of Learning, oil service training and a number of businesses that do their own specialized in-house training.

“As Airdrie continues to grow at above average rates, it is a very young community and with the pending annexation, council feels that now is the time to identify any opportunities to have an increased presence of post-secondary opportunities in Airdrie,” said Kent Rupert, team leader of economic development.

Lougheed Keefe did primary and secondary research that consisted of meetings with Rocky View Community Learning, Bow Valley College, local business owners, City staff and local high school students.

Alternative models of education were examined that include bussing students directly to post-secondary institutions in Calgary, e-learning and strengthening partnerships with local training institutions and businesses. She compared Airdrie to post-secondary models in Olds, Hinton, Sherwood Park and Stoney Plain.

“Airdrie has strong population and employment growth, a high high school population, above average high school competition and plans for a new high school,” said Lougheed Keefe.

“Seventy per cent of jobs require post-secondary education and there are shortages of engineers, trades, business and health-care professionals. However, the proximity to Calgary post-secondary education, the fact that students prefer to attend Calgary-based institutions, businesses are well served by existing post-secondary institutions, no hospital and the community size are all working against Airdrie.”

She said Alberta has the lowest rate in the country for Grade 12 students going to post-secondary institutions. About 37 per cent of students attend post secondary in Alberta, nationally that number comes in at 60 per cent.

The report recommended a number of long-term, medium-term and short-term goals including lobbying the provincial government and post secondary institutions.“Most businesses I talked to felt Airdrie was well served with post-secondary education in Calgary,” said Lougheed Keefe.

The medium-term goal is to work with local partners in investigating a Community Learning Campus.

Short-term goals include working with and strengthening the opportunities and awareness of current and future educational opportunities with local partners and working with internal departments to investigate the feasibility of bussing options to Calgary post-secondary institutions.

Lougheed Keefe said about 500 students attend post-secondary institutions in Calgary.

The economic development team will develop a work plan on how to move forward based on the four recommendations outlined, said Rupert.

“This study will allow us to really focus,” he added. “Those conversations will happen now.”


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