Conestoga news

February 13, 2024 5:34 PM

New report outlines Conestoga's impact on the local economy

Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning is essential to the local region’s prosperity and the robustness of its labour force, according to a new report released today.

Economist Larry Smith and Conestoga President John Tibbits present findings from a report that highlights the impact of the college and its graduates on the local economy.

Adapting for Prosperity III: Addressing Critical Needs shows the impact of the college and its graduates on the local economy by providing educational opportunities to both younger and older workers to adapt to the changes and challenges of the economic environment.

No other local institution has matched the scale of Conestoga’s contribution, concludes economist Larry Smith, adjunct associate professor of economics at the University of Waterloo and president of Essential Economics Corporation. Smith’s analysis, completed in collaboration with Conestoga’s Connie Phelps, associate vice president, Institutional Analysis, Planning & Quality, and analyst Farhad Kerimov, provides an update of studies released in 2003, 2010 and 2017.

The report stresses that the availability of labour is now the most urgent threat to the prosperity of local communities and, as long predicted, the declining birth rate, aging workforce and accelerating retirement of Baby Boomers are combining to place severe pressure on the labour supply.

Conestoga is dedicated to addressing the emerging needs of the skilled labour force, as demonstrated by the report’s findings presented at an afternoon gathering on Tuesday, February 13 attended by local business and community leaders at the college’s new and expanding Skilled Trades Campus on Reuter Drive in Cambridge.

“My thanks to Larry and our Institutional Research team for highlighting the invaluable economic contributions Conestoga and its graduates make to the community. The report quantifies our impact, but also demonstrates our commitment to fostering prosperity and enriching lives,” said Conestoga President John Tibbits.

Highlights of the study:

  • Conestoga graduates add more than $6.2 billion annually to the province’s economy, nearly a three-fold increase from $2.3 billion reported in 2017.
  • Conestoga’s local graduates, Continuing Education and Corporate Training students who are working represent almost 60 per cent of local resident employment.
  • The employment rate of Conestoga’s international graduates is virtually the same as domestic graduates: 84.8 per cent and 85.9 per cent, respectively.
  • More than 5,200 Conestoga graduates are local entrepreneurs, and across Ontario more than 7,700 businesses are owned by Conestoga alumni.
  • The total number of Conestoga graduates (just shy of 173,000) increased by 107 per cent since 2011, and almost 65 per cent of graduates live in the local area, contributing to the well-being of the community.

The full report is available at:

In addition to the impact its graduates are making, President Tibbits also noted the $500 million investment the college has made in the community over the last five years to expand campus locations and modernize buildings.

Recent developments include Phase 1 and 2 of the Conestoga Skilled Trades Campus as well as a major expansion of the college’s health care facilities and training programs. The college has also expanded its footprint in Milton with the Parkhill Drive campus which opened in January. Another Milton location on Steeles Avenue will welcome students this spring.

To support these expansion initiatives, the college has become a major employer for Waterloo Region and beyond, currently employing more than 5,500 full- and part-time employees across its campuses and locations.

Conestoga was established in Kitchener in 1967. Since then, the college has expanded significantly to deliver in-demand career and skills training to more than 45,000 students in eight communities and their surrounding areas in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Brantford, Milton, Stratford and Ingersoll. The college delivers a comprehensive range of career-focused programs including diplomas, degrees and post-graduate certificates.