September 27, 2020

BY WESLEY BUTLER

High job placement rates, a reputation for quality education and the addition of over 200 new programs in the last six years has made Conestoga College the fastest growing college in Ontario.

Figures released by the Ontario College Application Service confirm that full-time post-secondary enrolment across Conestoga’s campuses exceeds 10,000, up eight per cent from last year. First year enrolment sits at 6,161, up more than nine per cent from last year. The college’s full-time enrolment growth from 2007 to 2012 is 61.1 per cent, the highest in the province.

International enrolment increased by 74 per cent, attracting students from over 56 countries. The college’s degree programs have increased enrolment by 15.8 per cent, and graduate certificate program enrolment is up 33.8 per cent.

Waterloo Region’s growing population and dynamic economy are also factors. Toyota, Linamar and other companies in the high-tech sector usually don’t hire people who don’t have some kind of post-secondary education.

“With the region’s comprehensive economy, there’s a need for high-level entry positions,” said Conestoga College president John Tibbits. “There’s also a lot of innovation. Some companies struggle, while others emerge, so there’s often a need for retraining.”

Some of Conestoga’s newly developed programs include corporate training and post-secondary apprenticeships, including automotive service, electrician construction and maintenance, and tool and die making.

The college regularly renews and develops its training programs to meet industry needs. This year, they are looking into adding a number of new programs in the health-care area, such as a possible degree in public health.

Because of Conestoga’s growing enrolment, college administration has discussed possible expansion. The college owns the land on the other side of Highway 401 where the new Cambridge campus is located, so a building could be placed there. They have also considered building an addition at the Doon campus, which would be built across the street from the rec centre, an area which is approximately 28 acres. Possible expansion may also take place at the Waterloo campus, to implement new programs in food processing and culinary hospitality.

“There’s great capacity at all of Conestoga’s campuses, said Tibbits. “But at some point, there would have to be further growth of the buildings.”

The other area of expansion is at the Brantford campus of Wilfrid Laurier University. Conestoga College already offers an articulation agreement where Laurier’s third-year journalism students can take the broadcast television,  video broadcast journalism/documentary, new media: convergence, or integrated marketing communications programs at Conestoga.

“Our economy and population is continuing to grow,” said Tibbits. “This means Conestoga will continue to expand as the years go on.”