Improving access to local college and university studies so that people’s skills match the skills required by employers is a priority for the County of Simcoe, which is why it announced on Wednesday it is investing $500,000 in Georgian College.
“If we want to attract more business and economic development to the region, we need to ensure we have a highly skilled workforce readily available,” says Warden Cal Patterson. “Georgian alumni have historically been valuable contributors to the economic and social fabric of the County and it is important to continue to provide youth with local education opportunities.”
The County of Simcoe has been a generous supporter of growth at Georgian College over the past several years having already invested $1.2 million in the Sadlon Centre for Health and Wellness at the Barrie Campus, in addition to this announcement.
The John Di Poce South Georgian Bay Campus is the focus of the County’s latest contribution in an effort to further raise regional educational levels, particularly in the South Georgian Bay area. These communities lag 13 per cent behind the provincial average for the number of 25-to-34-year-olds who have a high school diploma or less.
One year after opening, the new campus is already producing dozens of success stories.
Last fall, Collingwood resident Blair Fleming enrolled in the newly offered Pre-Health Sciences program at the campus as the first step in achieving his dream career in nursing.
Without a local college he wouldn’t have made the decision to go back to school as a mature student, he said.
Fleming will graduate later this month and then begin the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Georgian’s Barrie Campus in September.
Georgian College has operated out of several temporary campuses in the Collingwood area for almost three decades but this is its first permanent campus in the region. Since opening in September, fall semester enrolment grew by 28 per cent and winter semester enrolment grew by 70 per cent.
Georgian President and CEO Brian Tamblyn says the campus is critical to reaching more local youth and encouraging them to pursue post-secondary education, not to mention providing a space for all residents to train for new careers in the growing knowledge-based economy.
“With the support of community partners like the County of Simcoe, this campus and all of the students that walk through its doors, have potential to become agents of change in the community,” says Tamblyn.
About 1,350 students are served by this campus each year. The facility allows Georgian to offer seven full-time programs, about 100 Continuing Education courses each semester, College and Career Preparation courses, corporate training and an e-learning lab to connect students to universities for undergraduate and graduate degree opportunities.
The first class of students who began full-time post-secondary programs at the campus will graduate in two weeks, including Fleming.