Nova Scotia

NSCC to suspend Marconi campus power engineering technology program

The NSCC academic union said they were notified a day before the decision that some programming could be changed.

NSCC Akerly campus and Strait Area campus to still offer power engineering

NSCC Marconi Campus in Sydney. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Nova Scotia Community College is suspending its popular power engineering technology program at its Marconi campus in Sydney, N.S.

The Nova Scotia Community College Academic Union said it was notified a day before the decision was announced that some programming could change.

The union said the only reason they were given for the suspension of the program was that it was a business decision.

David Pearson, vice-president of faculty for the union, said they hope NSCC will re-evaluate the decision.

"It might have been a decision that was made a little too quick," said Pearson.

"I'd like to see it revisited and perhaps further consultation with a wider range of stakeholders to ensure that the decision wasn't made hastily."

Power engineering technologists check and service power plant components.

'A quality program'

The program at the Marconi campus was at one time the only one of its kind in Nova Scotia and one of only two in the country.

Unlike the power engineering programs at two other campuses, the Marconi offering included process operations within the program.

"[The program] puts out a lot of highly skilled power engineers and operators. It gives them a wide array of opportunities," said Pearson. "It's a quality program."

The NSCC indicates it suspended the program at the Marconi campus in 2019 and launched the same power engineering program offered at its Akerley and Strait Area campuses. 

Alex Gallant is from Glace Bay, N.S., and attended the program at Marconi campus 10 years ago. He said a major advantage of receiving training there was the faculty and the realistic lab on campus.

"That was a game changer that if we didn't have, I would not have been so comfortable at the job I was at for the last 10 years," said Gallant.

When Gallant attended the course, there were many Cape Bretoners in the class.

Labour market demand reviewed

Even on the job site, he worked alongside many people from the island who also trained at Marconi. He said it's a big loss to local young people who want to be a power engineering technologist.

"Everyone in my class, I'm pretty sure, who wanted to work in the field, found work," said Gallant.

In an email statement, an NSCC spokesperson said school officials reviewed the labour market demand for power engineers in Nova Scotia with the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency in making the decision.

The program will be officially suspended at the start of the 2022-23 school year.