Skilled Trades Power Our Province
The first week of November was recognized across Canada as National Skilled Trades and Technology Week. A welcome announcement made during Skilled Trades and Technology Week was even more cause for celebration. I was very pleased to hear the good news that the SaskPower natural gas power plant in Moose Jaw will go ahead.
The natural gas plant will help us reach our goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plant will use combined cycle gas turbine technology that is proven and highly efficient, with less emissions than coal-powered plants.
We will see the work of many of our skilled tradespeople during construction of the plant. The plant is expected to employ up to 500 workers during construction and 25 employees once it is operational.
Skilled trades and technology workers are incredibly talented and perform work that has a real impact on our everyday lives. Many of those highly skilled workers were trained here at the Moose Jaw Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus.
The Ministry of Advanced Education sets out to develop a skilled and educated workforce that meets the needs of Saskatchewan’s labour market. The ministry works with the private sector, educational institutions and community organizations to develop, retain and attract skilled workers.
Under that Ministry, Saskatchewan Polytechnic delivers 180 programs through four campuses in the province. They provide certificate, diploma and degree programs and apprenticeship technical training as well as distance education opportunities. In this academic year, 16,008 students attend SaskPolytechnic, with 2,791 in Moose Jaw. Ninety-four percent of recent graduates found employment within six months to a year after graduating.
The presence of SaskPolytechnic in Moose Jaw contributes a lot to our community and our economy. It had its beginnings in 1959 when Saskatchewan Technical Institute (STI) opened in the former Teachers’ College with 26 employees and 526 students enrolled in technology, industrial, apprenticeship, unemployed training and upgrading programs. The first STI graduation was held on April 28, 1961 with 17 graduates from the Civil Engineering Technology program and 16 graduates from the Radio and Television Servicing program. An expansion opened in November of 1983. Moose Jaw was known around the province as the home of STI.
In 1988, all the Science and Technology Institutions in the province came together as “SIAST”, the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology. What had been referred to by Moose Jaw locals for many years as “STI” became “SIAST – Palliser Campus”. In 2014, SIAST was officially relaunched as Saskatchewan Polytechnic. Our location that has been serving trades and technology students for 60 years is now known as Saskatchewan Polytechnic – Moose Jaw Campus.
Close to 3,000 students arrive here every school year looking for housing, food, and leisure activities. In recent years, there are more international students, adding to the cultural diversity of our city. The students participate in community events that benefit others. Staff support our local businesses, own homes and contribute to our economy.
All this is a result of successfully training students in Skilled Trades and Technology. Our cities and our province have grown with the contributions of these well-trained workers. Their training and skills will continue to be very important as we look forward to the next decade of growth.