NAIT is one of Canada’s largest polytechnics. As with other leading polytechnics worldwide, our education and research is technology based, and our learning is hands-on. Industry is a full partner in the educational process. Our research is industry driven.
Our students’ experiences are shaped by two distinct advantages – NAIT is relevance and NAIT is responsiveness. The relevance of our education leads directly to our student and graduate success, which, in turn, leads to industry competitiveness and workforce effectiveness. Students’ investment in education at NAIT allows them to build meaningful careers and contribute to the communities around them and Canadian society as a whole.
Our institution has four educational pillars: science, technology and the environment; trades; health care; and business. Programs are technology based and classes are small. And we have knowledgeable and dedicated instructors. With three major campuses in Edmonton, we have more than 200 credit programs that lead to degrees, applied degrees, diplomas and certificates. Recognizing the demand for flexibility, the continuing education department offers 1,200 part-time and distance courses. Only about 20 per cent of our students are directly from high school, and about half arrive with prior post-secondary education. Nearly 80 per cent entering NAIT do so to establish a career, and well over 90 per cent find employment prior to, or shortly after, graduation.
NAIT 2021 – our long-term vision –will guide us in the years ahead. We will continue to build Alberta’s highly qualified skilled workforce by meeting current and emerging needs for polytechnic education and research. We will continue to work in partnership with industry to create enterprises that can compete worldwide. Our partners are a source of inspiration for beneficial apprenticeships, practical applied research, technology transfer and student success. By remaining committed to our four pillars, NAIT will be pivotal in helping Canada address future productivity and competitive challenges, as these four areas are precisely where more skilled workers will be needed.
The role of polytechnic education in contributing to Canada’s economy has never been more crucial, as the global demand for skilled workers increases. How Canada recruits and retains skilled workers will determine our success in meeting that demand, as they are needed in emerging economies just as they are needed here. Pressure on polytechnic education will intensify. This is already happening at NAIT. Between 2007 and 2011, applicant pressure increased by 27 per cent.
With industry advisory committees for programs, as well as an Entrepreneur in Residence, NAIT develops solutions that strengthen the economy and contribute to Canada’s reputation for applied research. Whether providing business incubator support, conducting research for the commercialization of new technologies and products or fostering scholarly activities NAIT adds value. With more than 30 apprenticeship trades, NAIT is the largest apprenticeship educator in Canada.
While NAIT is central to building Alberta’s economy, our reach is national and international in scope. We have taken our instruction model to every Canadian province and territory to assist corporations with workforce development, manufacturing solutions and project management. We have delivered our expertise to more than 60 countries, helping businesses, government agencies and educational institutions address country-specific needs for a skilled workforce.
NAIT’s ability to deliver pragmatic programs and develop sensible solutions is extensive. Our Alternative Energy Technology program gives students experience in solar, wind, fuel cell and hydro energy applications. Our Boreal Research Institute produces plants for boreal forest and peatland restoration, preparing students for careers in oil and gas and helping companies reclaim sites cost effectively and ecologically. Through our Nanotechnology Systems Diploma program – the first in Canada – NAIT is planning research projects that allow cutting-edge nanotechnology initiatives to engage directly with our welders and electricians. The School of Health Sciences, which provides allied health career education, is researching challenges faced by Aboriginal youth entering health careers to improve First Nations health in Canada.
As we have for 50 years, NAIT will continue to teach for the ‘new economy’ and meet Alberta’s and Canada’s emerging needs for polytechnic education. The energy and enthusiasm among students and staff reflect a belief in NAIT by business and industry and by government. This belief enables NAIT to continue building on our foundation as a relevant and responsive polytechnic for Alberta, for Canada and beyond our country’s borders.