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CNA President, MHA say work to replace Bonavista electrician program underway

College of the North Atlantic
College of the North Atlantic - SaltWire Network

BONAVISTA, N.L. — While the Bonavista College of the North Atlantic (CNA) campus will no longer offer the electrician program, work is already underway to find another program which would fit the region.

After The Packet learned the construction-industrial electrician program was discontinued from the campus curriculum, with two local instructors will losing their jobs, CNA said 14 full-time permanent employees in the province would be laid off.

In a phone interview from Doha, Qatar, CNA president Dr. William Radford, told The Packet the cut was part of the annual enrolment management process.

“It’s unfortunately a simple equation, if we don’t have demand for a program, then obviously we have to lay people off,” said Radford.

He adds the electrician program has seen decline in enrolment in other communities around the province as well.

Radford says, going forward, they’re working with the communities to ensure they get the right programming in campuses like Bonavista to have high enrolment, and supporting community development.

“What the college has been doing over the past number of years is basically repeating the same pattern and we’ve had the same result — because of demographics and because of the economy programs have been cut and people have been laid off.

“My vision is we’re going to grow rural campuses but we won’t grow them if we keep doing what we’ve done in the past.”

He encourages people to become involved in the strategic planning process to develop the future of campuses like Bonavista.

Radford says he hopes to implement courses better suited to what’s going on locally.

Among the programs suspended and campuses affected by changes are: Construction/Industrial Electrician (Bonavista and Bay St. George); Instrumentation & Control Technician, Metal Fabricator (Fitter) and Sheet Metal Worker (Burin); Industrial Mechanic (Millwright) (Baie Verte); and, Process Operations Engineering Technology (Corner Brook). Industrial Engineering Technology – Co-op (Ridge Road) will also be suspended for student intake; however, it will be reviewed and revised during 2018-19 and will not have any faculty impacted during this time

Last year, the college discontinued the cook program at the Bonavista campus. After that cut, a tourism and hospitality program was introduced.

According to the CNA website, the Bonavista campus also offers heavy equipment operator (shared program with Bay St. George) and plumber. The college also offers contracted continuing education courses, like first aid, in the evenings on site.

Radford says while you can’t justify running a program like the full culinary course for a handful of students, there are opportunities, using the same infrastructure on site, to run more specific “boutique programs.”

He adds consultations are ongoing this month into June — with the goal of having a plan for the future ready for September.

“It’s the old adage — if you keep on repeating what you’ve done, then you’re doomed to fail. So, we’ve got to change things around and I believe that we will.”

Work ongoing to continue growth of college

While the announcement of the discontinuation of the electrician program is certainly a setback, Bonavista MHA Neil King told The Packet he’s continuing to work with the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) and the communities to continue the growth of the college.

King says he found out late last week about the cuts, adding the college has been a topic he’s made a priority for his work since elected in 2015.

He says it’s unfortunate that the electrician program dwindled to a registration number of less than five.

“I know there’s concerns with enrolment in certain programs, and we want to see the campus grow; we want to see it used as a regional hub,” said King.

He works as part of the local post-secondary advisory committee and has talked to CNA president Dr. William Radford and minister for Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Al Hawkins about securing a new program for the area.

King adds there are positives to be identified at the college, like the Orientation to the Trades program which introduces women to trades and technology opportunities.

“We’ve actually seen an increase in the plumbing program, when in other years we haven’t and the heavy equipment is pretty steady.”

King says they’re pushing hard to secure another program that will suit the region and create a strong campus.

Jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Twitter: @jejparsons

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