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Skilled Trades Get VIP Treatment at Conestoga College

The region is home to a new skilled trades school, one of the largest in Canada. Find out what we learned about the new campus on our recent tour.

Since 1967, Conestoga College has played a vital part in strengthening the Waterloo community by providing lifelong learning programs and producing a fresh crop of skilled trades workers each year.

Recently, the college launched the Conestoga Skilled Trades Campus (CSTC) offering programs in mechanical and electrical engineering, industrial mechanic millwright, welding and food packaging.

Located on Reuter Drive in the manufacturing hub of Cambridge, one of the region’s three cities, Conestoga College’s new campus is neighbours with major manufacturers like Toyota, Dare Foods and ATS Automation.

This new facility will help insulate Waterloo from skilled trades labour shortages as students will come away with highly relevant, hands-on experience that they can contribute to the trades industries immediately upon graduation.

Waterloo is known for having the 4th largest manufacturing workforce and the largest robotics and automation cluster in Canada. With this new campus, we’ll become a top source of skilled trades talent in Canada, too.

We recently toured the brand-new campus and here is what we learned:

It’s one of the largest skilled trades campuses in Canada

Conestoga College is recognized as having one of Canada’s biggest skilled trades campuses. The school offers multiple pathways for those interested in obtaining certificates, diplomas in post-secondary education and apprenticeship training.

The building is a massive 320,000 square feet and sits off highway 401 on a 40-acre plot. It consists of two levels, capable of accommodating more than 500 students concurrently.

The first-floor features student services, labs, trade shops, a cafeteria, event space and common areas with the second floor includes classrooms, labs and social spots.

The space was designed to accommodate student learning experiences and requisites, staying up to date with the latest technologies and learning opportunities.

View from outside of Conestoga College Skilled Trades campus

The campus is 320,000 square feet and sits off highway 401 on a 40-acre plot.

It has leading electrical and mechanical programs

Conestoga College is one of the largest electrical training facilities in Ontario offering several programs at their skilled trades and apprenticeship school.

Among their top entry programs are the electrical and mechanical technician programs. In the electrical program, students can acquire the skills needed to become proficient electrical workers, learning various wiring methods for residential, commercial and industrial purposes.

Meanwhile, the mechanical technician program provides training for different types of machinery, including both CNC and conventional machines.

Through these programs, students become well-equipped for the workforce, acquiring the necessary skills, education and experience our local companies are looking to grow their business.

Robotics machinery at Conestoga's skilled trades campus

The mechanical and electrical technician programs provide training on different types of machinery.

Conestoga has relationships with industry partners

Part of what makes the skilled trades school so unique is that it offers students the opportunity to gain experience in the workforce before graduation. A big part of this is from the support of industry partners in our community.

Employers contribute to student success by offering positions in co-op and apprenticeship programs, allowing students to learn in the field.

The college has found that many employers actually prefer hiring Conestoga students because they are well prepared in working with the technologies and machinery demanded in the industry. As a result, they do not need any additional training to hit the ground running.

Conestoga also works with industry partners to continuously update their programs with the latest technologies and scenarios seen in the industry.

Bird eye view of Conestoga College shop

A bird’s eye view of the precision machine shop on the first floor.



There’s a balance of technical and theoretical learning

Conestoga College offers a unique blend of in-class learning and practical experience. Its state-of-the-art facility provides distinctive programs that allow students to experience hands-on, in-demand industry equipment as well as getting exposure to learning components found in a classroom setting.

Classrooms are situated on the second floor with windows providing a bird’s eye view of the shops on the first floor. This is especially helpful as it can allow for the reference of machinery to enrich theory classes.

Additionally, Conestoga’s faculty are often involved in industry, which allows them to have insider knowledge on the latest industry needs which enhances the students’ experience and learning. This sets Conestoga apart since most of their skilled trades and apprenticeship students are exposed to the industry before graduation.

Conestoga College classroom

Classrooms are situated on the second floor, with windows overlooking the shops on the first floor.

It has industry applicable labs and machinery

One of the major features Conestoga offers at their skilled trades campus is the labs and shops filled with industry-ready machinery.

Conestoga works with partners and the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) to ensure their curriculum, technology and equipment are as up-to-date as possible so their students are well equipped to meet the demands of the industry upon graduation.

One of the learning components Conestoga prioritizes is hands-on experience which is provided in their impressive labs and shops designed specifically for each of their programs. Each lab is designed to be two to three hours long with a combination of theory and lab work to mimic realistic scenarios a trades worker may encounter.

Each classroom was purposely designed with the intent to be spacious so students can openly collaborate and problem solve together in their booths without being overcrowded and so instructors have a direct view of all students and what they’re working on.

robotics automation shop at skilled trades campus

The college emphasizes hands-on experience which can be attained in their impressive labs and shops.

It’s a spacious, modern environment

Located in one of Waterloo’s industrial areas, the skilled trades campus offers students an open and friendly environment to focus on their learning.

The building features large windows on all sides that allow for natural light to come in and create a warm, welcoming environment that seeps through the spacious hallways and into the classrooms. It was intentionally designed with the student’s needs and experience in mind.

Many students commute from their apprenticeship for two to three hours to attend classes and may stay on campus for the entire day. In this case, students can take advantage of the many amenities offered which includes a cafeteria, a learning resource centre, a book store and a library.

Conestoga has made it their mission to be adaptable in incorporating their students’ needs and creating multiple study environments. The school is equipped with individual study rooms, groupwork spaces and computers students can sign out if they don’t have access to one at home.

Conestoga student lounge area

One of many study environments purposely designed to fit students’ needs.

What’s next?

Conestoga College will continue the development of the skilled trades campus by launching the second phase in September 2023. HVAC, millwright, mechanical and electrical automation will be the new programs implemented, with 1,200 electrical automation students enrolled in the fall.

Conestoga’s motive power fundamental and technician programs – currently offered at their Guelph location – are expected to join the new campus following the second phase of the launch. The college continues to find new opportunities and ways to grow their campus.

Expand your business to Waterloo

Take full advantage of Conestoga College’s skills trade talent and apprenticeship talent.