Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley says giving degree-granting status to Grande Prairie Regional College could be key in addressing potential skilled labour shortages in the Peace Country.
Speaking with members of the Grande Prairie & District Chamber of Commerce virtually Tuesday, Notley said she has long agreed with the school’s desire to become a degree-granting institution and she has heard from many students, both past and present, about how important they feel it is to be able to complete their degree in the city.
“We will invest in a Grande Prairie university to help more students reach their potential, become highly educated, highly qualified professionals, who are ready to meet the need of tomorrow’s Alberta, by staying in Grande Prairie.”
In 2018, the Alberta government, then under Notley and the NDP, announced that the college would be given degree-granting status, putting it on track to becoming a polytechnic university. At that time, the college said it could take two to three years before students would be able to enroll in a degree program.
However, the province is currently undertaking a review of post-secondary institutions in Alberta, with Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides suggesting in January that the possible transition from college to university for GPRC, as well as schools like Red Deer College, is still up for debate.
“This includes finding new opportunities to help Grande Prairie Regional College meet the needs of its students and community now, and well into the future,” he explained to MyGrandePrairieNow.com at the time.
Notley argues that Grande Prairie is set to face a number of challenges with a skilled labour force, something that was echoed by a recent labour market study backed by the chamber. The report indicated that skilled workers like licensed practical nurses, professional engineers, and people with hydrogen sulphide training are some of the most sought-after by employers in the Grande Prairie region.
Notley suggests that the make-up of the Grande Prairie community lends itself to being on the front line of any economic bounce back.
“As the youngest and fastest-growing city in Alberta, Grande Prairie is well-positioned to help drive our economic recovery post COVID,” she adds.
The chat with the Grande Prairie Chamber and District Chamber of Commerce was one in a series of digital meetings Notley has held with chambers across Alberta.