The prominence and importance given to post-secondary education in the 2005 Ontario Budget is welcome news to Conestoga College and, by extension, to the regional economy.
"This budget, with its recognition of the vital role that higher education plays in the province, is a positive first step to moving Ontario forward towards greater prosperity," says Conestoga President John Tibbits.
He adds that the budget endorses the findings and proposals of the recent Rae Review, to which Conestoga was a contributor. Many of the recommendations of the Rae Review reflected directions set out in Conestoga's submission to the panel.
"Skills education is diverse, complex and sophisticated," Tibbits says. "To be effective now and in the long-term, skills education needs the support and understanding of government leaders and policy-makers. The budget makes clear that higher education is seen as a prime contributor to growth, prosperity and economic competitiveness."
He adds that the budget initiatives enhancing access to post-secondary education and those calling attention to the importance of applied research which results in more efficient, effective commercialization of knowledge are keys to realizing Ontario's potential.
"Opportunity is priceless. Providing greater ways and means for more students to pursue their goals is as important as providing more ways for them to start and continue their education, in colleges, universities and the workplace -- and not be constrained by artificial barriers."
President Tibbits is pleased with the multi-year aspect of the funding announcement, which not only indicates an increasing commitment to higher education, but also lays out a path whereby colleges can plan effectively for growth and innovation.
He is particularly pleased with the attention being given to apprenticeship education.
"Both Conestoga's position paper and the final report of the Rae Review maintain that apprenticeship rightly should be the third pillar of higher education in the province, alongside and equal to colleges and universities. Conestoga is one of Ontario's largest providers of apprenticeship education, and the government's commitment should allow both expansion of activity and development of new forms of activity, such as programs that result in combined apprenticeship certification and the granting of a college diploma."