“Quality products and successful businesses can only be achieved when companies have access to a talented, skilled workforce,” said Ray Tanguay, the retired President and CEO of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada. “Finding ways to attract more people to skilled trades careers and making a firm commitment to developing the trades workforce are important steps forward in addressing skills shortages.”
This is particularly relevant in Waterloo. While the community’s reputation is as a tech hub – and it is – there is also a significant manufacturing and construction industry. Our advanced manufacturing talent guide reported that there are nearly 2,000 manufacturing companies in the region, accounting for about 18% of all jobs. As this segment of the Waterloo economy continues to grow, the demand for skilled trades will continue to increase.
The new skilled trades campus is just the latest in a number of major expansions and announcements from Conestoga College. In 2011, the school opened a new facility in Cambridge and last year they celebrated a $58 million expansion/upgrade of its main facility in Waterloo. In May 2019, they announced plans to expand their business programming into a new 82,000 square foot facility in downtown Kitchener.
A new showcase facility for skilled trades education is set to open in Waterloo Region. In late November, Conestoga College announced the $33.5 million purchase of a 250,000 square foot facility, with plans to consolidate all trades programming under one roof.
“It’ll give us a chance to have one of the most comprehensive and high-quality trades facilities in the province,” Conestoga College president John Tibbits told the Waterloo Region Record. “This is a game-changer.”
Originally constructed in 2003, with substantial renovations in 2009, the facility includes office and manufacturing areas ideally suited to the unique requirements of trades education and training. At 41.2 acres, the parcel of land also provides ample opportunity for growth in the future.
Conestoga College offers a wide range of skilled trades programs, including construction (carpentry, electrical and HVAC), industrial (welding, CNC), motive power (heavy construction equipment, automotive) and traditional apprenticeships. The new facility will open in September 2021 and will house all skilled trades programs.