Ponoka residents soon won’t have to leave town to gain certain career skills and education.
Red Deer College and Olds College are preparing to open a joint campus this fall in Ponoka. This partnership will be similar to other Campus Alberta Central sites the two institutions run in Rocky Mountain House, Stettler and Drumheller.
“We are very happy now to have locations now in the north, south, east and west” of Red Deer, said Bonnie Ireland, executive-director of Campus Alberta Central.
The new community learning centre, expected to open in October in the Ponoka town office and library complex, will offer a variety of programs.
Starting this fall, residents will have a chance to upgrade their literacy and take English as a Second Language programs through the Ponoka Learning Council, which will also locate on the Campus Alberta Central site.
Instructors will be available to help students get the prerequisites to enrol in new programs starting over the next couple of years, said Ireland.
In the fall of 2019, Ponoka-area residents can learn to become heavy-equipment operators, a course offered by Olds College.
In the winter of 2020, Red Deer College will start training students to become health care aides.
Ireland said other programs could be added in future, based on the results of community needs assessments.
RDC president Joel Ward believes many Central Albertans want to pursue a higher education, but for personal or financial reasons, can’t leave their communities.
Campus Alberta Central allows them to expand their skills and knowledge to become more qualified for the job market, without leaving town. “This will give them an opportunity to get back in the queue,” said Ward.
Olds College is proud help increase the accessibility of post-secondary education, said Debbie Thompson, the facility’s vice president academic. “Through this collaboration, we are contributing to the success of learners and creating communities that are committed to being regionally based centres of learning,” she added.