Saskatchewan's technical colleges face growing demand for courses and say they are turning away potential students because of the problem.
SIAST, the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology, says that for every three students who successfully enrol for a diploma or certificate program there are two qualified applicants who must be turned away.
The heaviest demand, according to officials, is in the trades — especially for electricians — as well as the medical field.
"Lab technologists," David Walls, a SIAST vice-president, explained Friday. "The people who do the radiology work, dental assistant, dental hygiene — those are all programs where we turn away a lot of people."
According to officials, SIAST tries to coordinate its course offerings with industry groups, but there are still limitations on what its schools can provide.
Compared to four years ago, the school says, enrolment has increased by 30 per cent.
In the span of a year, about 26,000 students register for a short course or a full program.
The certificate and diploma programs attract more than 5,500 applicants in a year. However, the school only has room for 3,500.
"We are now limited on capacity," Walls said. "So really the message to students is not necessarily a great one because we don't have the spaces."
Walls said SIAST will be looking to government and industry to help pay for an expansion of programs.
Terry Parker, from the Saskatchewan Building Trades Council, said members are concerned about what the future holds for the construction trades.
"We're quite concerned that ... in the next year or two, we're going to see some problems with SIAST being able to have enough seats available for our apprentices coming up," Parker said. If the school cannot produce qualified people, the construction industry will, as it is doing now in some areas, continue recruiting workers from outside of Saskatchewan.
SIAST has campuses in Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon.