College needs more square footage to grow
© Dave Mathieson - Amherst Daily News
Don McCormack, principal of Nova Scotia Community College Cumberland Campus, recently gave a slideshow presentation to county council and then took questions from councilors.
UPPER NAPPAN - Come September, the Nova Scotia Community College will be offering two new courses at their NSCC Cumberland Campus Community Learning Centre in Amherst.
"We're bringing in the LPN (licensed practical nurse) program, which we're really excited about, and the other one is the Electronic Engineering Technician program," said Don McCormack, Cumberland Campus principal, during a recent presentation at the Municipality of Cumberland County council chambers.
Both are two-year programs.
McCormack said the Cumberland campus did offer an LPN program a number of years ago and are starting it up again because more LPN's will be needed in the near future.
"The only thing worse than cancelling a program is having a program with graduate students and they have no jobs," said McCormack. "Eighty-six per cent of our students get jobs in their field within 12 months. I don't think universities are saying that."
The EET program is new to the Cumberland Campus and prepares the groundwork for the shipbuilding contracts set to hit Halifax in the next few years.
"It will allow the graduates to look at a number of fields," said McCormack. "It lines up very well with the ship start. In two years there will be a demand. There isn't right now but we're anticipating a demand.
"Another thing it lines up well with will be LED Roadway Lighting," he added. "Those are the graduates they are looking for when they grow, and they suggested to us they will have significant growth over the next 24 to 36 months."
McCormack explained to council why the new courses will be offered in Amherst instead of Springhill.
"In Springhill, the question was, if you're going to grow in Springhill how and when are you going to do it?" said McCormack. "The only place we have to grow is with the hockey rink in Springhill. They're considering a phase three and that would be a logical place.
"But we're at full capacity in Springhill. There is no more room at the Inn. We can't put anymore people or any more programs in there."
McCormack said that NSCC opened in Springhill in 1964 with 111 students in four programs.
"In 1995 we had 200 students and 14 programs and today we have 22 programs and 407 students."
The Amherst campus opened in 2006 with 1,000 square feet.
"From 2006 to 2011 we grew to 5,000 square feet, and then we found that was no longer big enough for us, so we moved down to South Albion where we now have 20,000 square feet," said McCormack.
They moved to South Albion before fire damaged their old campus on Victoria Street.
"Our timing there was really fortunate," said McCormack. "We would have been in a real mess. The timing for us was very positive."
He said NSCC is looking to grow further in Amherst.
"Some of the things we want to look at going forward in Amherst are employee assistance services and business development," said McCormack. "We want to connect with industry to support the just-in-time education they need to support them, and to do that we need the space.
"And we've been looking at rentals we've identified within our area that we may be able to use."