Pipefitting program on hold for a year, explains Holland College
College ran out of money for planned expansion
P.E.I.'s Holland College responded Monday to Opposition claims that the college's steamfitting/pipefitting program had been "quietly axed" — saying the program has been suspended for a year.
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Friday, Georgetown-St. Peters MLA and Opposition Rural Development Critic Steven Myers asked what had become of the program and $741,768 in government funding for upgrades and an expansion to the college's Georgetown campus, where the course was offered.
We realized that the budget would only go far enough to cover the upgrading work and this was deemed a priority.— Sandy MacDonald, Holland College
"We think the Holland College facility in Georgetown is important to Georgetown and to rural Prince Edward Island, and we want the full complement of programs that we had before — we want the pipefitting program back, and we want government to tell us where this expansion is that was promised," Myers said.
'Enrolment numbers weren't there'
Holland College said it annually analyzes all of its programs as they relate to labour market opportunities, and doesn't offer all of its programs every year.
"This past year we were watching the pipefitting/steamfitting program very closely and the enrolment numbers weren't there, nor did we feel the job opportunities were there," said the college's vice-president of programs, Sandy MacDonald, of why the college decided to suspend the program for a year.
"Depends on what the local labour market situation is," he added. "We want to make sure if they take our program that there's a very good chance they're going to find permanent work shortly after graduating."
The half a dozen students who applied for this fall's program have been informed of the suspension, MacDonald said. The college said 15 to 20 students is an optimal number for the program.
The college is already advertising the program for the 2018/19 academic year.
Upgrading took priority over expanding
MacDonald also explained that 90 per cent of the upgrades at the Georgetown campus have been completed, including $364,000 in mechanical upgrades including air handling, HVAC and plumbing, $158,000 for the building envelope including windows, doors and roof, $120,000 for electrical upgrades and $66,000 for interior upgrades.
A planned addition of 186 square metres of classroom space is not happening, said MacDonald.
"Initially we had hoped to include a small addition to the building, but once all the tenders came back we realized that the budget would only go far enough to cover the upgrading work and this was deemed a priority over the addition," said MacDonald.
Holland College offers two other programs at the Georgetown Centre — plumbing and welding, which Holland College said are both "experiencing healthy enrollments."
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With files from Cody MacKay and Natalia Goodwin