Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs identified a growing shortage of trade professionals. To ensure Alberta’s growing and diversifying industries have access to the talent they need, apprenticeship-style programming needs to be expanded.

As Alberta’s government works toward achieving the goals of this initiative, it is creating more seats at Northwestern Polytechnic in Grande Prairie and Fairview to expand access to existing apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship-style programming combines in-class learning with on-the-job training, providing students with job-ready skills upon graduation.

“We are pleased to help Northwestern Polytechnic meet the increased demand for apprenticeship education. These 80 additional seats will allow more Albertans to fulfil their potential in a rewarding career and help meet the needs of Alberta’s booming economy.”

Kaycee Madu, Deputy Premier and Minister of Skilled Trades and Professions

The apprenticeship seat expansion aligns with the Government of Alberta’s plan to develop focused and flexible investment in the skilled trades to help ensure Albertans obtain needed skills for the modern economy. Expanding this programming at Northwestern Polytechnic ensures that Albertans in all parts of the province can access the education they need to be successful and build rewarding careers.

The additional 80 seats are made possible by a $341,800 investment from Alberta’s government. All 80 seats are available for students in the current 2022-23 academic year.

“Apprenticeship education remains a cornerstone of our post-secondary system. Making sure there are opportunities for students to pursue this type of training in all corners of the province is key to developing a world-class workforce and growing our economy.”

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education

"Northwestern Alberta is poised to be an economic driver of Alberta's prosperity. Investing in more apprenticeship training spaces will ensure that we have the labour ready to handle the opportunities that are coming to Grande Prairie and area.”

Brian Jean, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development

“This funding will enhance our ability to respond to and support the increasing demand for apprentices within our region. Without this unique partnership and support, we would be unable to respond quickly and deliver our newly established instrumentation second period offering in Grande Prairie. We are grateful for this proactive support, enabling our responsiveness to workforce needs and creating a growing and sustainable future for skilled trades in our region.”

Caitlin Hartigandean of skilled trades, Northwestern Polytechnic

To meet increased demand while containing costs, the expanded programs will relocate and repurpose available instrumentation education equipment provided by Lakeland College in Vermilion.

“It is always exciting to see the expansion of apprenticeship seats, especially at Northwestern Polytechnic Grande Prairie and Fairview campuses. These institutions provide great opportunities in training for our students. The Peace Country is a learning hub for students from across our province and worldwide. This announcement is more good news for Alberta.”

Todd Loewen, Minister of Forestry, Parks and Tourism

"This expansion into more apprenticeship spaces at Northwestern Polytechnic is welcome news and fully aligned with this government's commitment to skills for jobs. Working in collaboration with industry partners to identify workforce development needs, Northwestern Polytechnic is delivering training to address gaps in our workforce, serving the economic growth of Grande Prairie and the region and, by extension, the economic benefit of the province as a whole."

Tracy Allard, MLA for Grande Prairie 

“Starting a trade in your 30s is hard. I have a wife, kids and a house. Travelling to Edmonton or Calgary is a large financial and emotional stressor. Having NWP offer a second year not only alleviates a portion of that financial stress, but I can see my support group, my family, daily. Both of those things allow me to advance in the trade faster than if I had to travel.”

Mark Newsteadsecond-year instrumentation control tech apprentice, Northwestern Polytechnic

The Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs strategy is a transformational vision and direction for Alberta’s higher education system, which will develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce, strengthen innovation and commercialization of research, and forge stronger relationships between employers and post-secondary institutions.

Quick facts

  • Although Northwestern Polytechnic is already delivering 783 committed seats for the 2022-2023 academic year, increased demand for apprenticeship programs has resulted in the decision to fund 80 additional seats.

  • The additional seats will be distributed as follows:

    • heavy equipment technician – 24 seats in Fairview

    • industrial mechanic (millwright) – 20 seats in Grande Prairie

    • electrician – 24 seats in Grande Prairie

    • automotive service technician – 12 seats in Fairview

  • Funding of $341,800 for this project is available from the Apprenticeship Technical Training Grant, held by Alberta Skilled Trades and Professions.

  • The expanded programs will relocate and repurpose available instrumentation classroom education equipment from Lakeland College in Vermilion at a cost of $65,000 and in time for the start of the winter term in January 2023.

  • Most of the additional students have started their programs, and Northwestern Polytechnic is currently working to increase instructional staffing to expand wait-lists for spring program starts.