Suncor Energy invests in SAIT
Suncor Energy donated $600,000 to SAIT to support the enhancement of the blended learning apprenticeship programs. Senior Suncor executive visited SAIT earlier this year to present the gift. Blended learning is a flexible, innovative training solution that allows apprentices in select high-demand trades to stay on the job longer and still complete their education.
Originally launched in 2012 for plumbing, welding and electrical apprentices, blended learning at SAIT has expanded to include carpentry and, most recently, automotive service technicians. The funding support from Suncor allows SAIT to improve and develop additional online curriculum. This in-house development of modules allows the option for regular updates and improvements to training scenarios as industry evolves.
"Building a skilled workforce to meet the demands of our economy isn't something that can be done by any one organization,” said Ron Genereux, vice president, Major Projects, Suncor. “It requires ongoing commitment and partnership from post-secondary institutions, government and industry. We are committed to investing in initiatives that provide practical solutions to help build skills and knowledge for our current and future workforce and to strengthen the labour market."
Blended learning allows apprentices to complete the theory portion of their training online. This reduces classroom time by up to 15 weeks, so employers can maintain their workforce for longer and students continue to bring home a paycheque. Apprentices then complete their lab work over a condensed period on campus, using SAIT's state-of-the-art facilities.
The program was developed in response to the Government of Alberta estimating the province could experience a labour shortage of approximately 96,000 by 2023. Close to 3,500 of those workers are expected to be in the five blended learning trades at SAIT.
"Suncor is helping SAIT innovate and expand training capabilities, enabling people to achieve their apprenticeship training goals," says David Roberge, Dean of the School of Manufacturing and Automation at SAIT. "The more apprentices we can effectively train, the more opportunity we have to satisfy industries growing need for skilled labour and fuel for our provincial economy."
A portion of the funds from Suncor will also support curriculum development for the non-destructive testing program in the School of Manufacturing and Automation.