Education pays off

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September 11, 2014 2:51 PM

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Last year, Alberta residents paid $39.6 million in tax money to support operations at Lakeland College. But, like they say, education really does pay off. This time in a big way.

Because of taxpayers continued support of operations at Lakeland College, the school’s staff, students and regional workforce alumni have contributed about $168 million to the local economy in one year of activity, according to a study by Economic Modelling Specialists Inc.

The study, using information from the 2012/2013 year, outlines the return benefits for support of the college on a societal and economical level, further addressing the benefits to Albertan taxpayers. The added economical value generated by college staff, students and alumni comes from money devoted to living expenses, including the purchase of goods and services from local businesses.

And with a new batch of Albertan residents coming in for schooling every September, this figure appears sustainable.

“Our enrolment is pretty stable,” said Tracy Edwards, president of Lakeland College. “We serve between 7-8,000 students in total, if you’re just talking about heads, which equates to somewhere around 2,000 full-time equivalent students.”

Based on trends seen at a previous college she was involved in years ago, Edwards assumes that an upward trend in economical input should be visible at Lakeland as well in the coming years.

“Certainly, we are in a booming region, and we really need talented young people to fill our workforce,” said Edwards.

“For us, we are all about helping students find their career paths,” said Edwards. “So, students coming to us will spend a year, two years, sometimes four years with us depending on what program they want to take and by the time they’re done, they’ll hit the ground running, because they’ll have really good skills.”

And often times, those graduates apply those skills in the Vermilion and Lloydminster region. About 52 per cent of students who study at Lakeland College remain in Alberta, and use their education to get higher paying jobs that continue to feed the provincial economy with more tax money.

This means that over the course of students’ working careers, an additional $42.1 million in taxes will be funneled into the provincial government, allowing for societal benefits like a reduction in crime and the need for income assistance.

“We often talk about ‘live the learning’ for our students, that we really want them to be able to apply their skills,” said Edwards. “And if they can do that and it supports their communities, then so much the better.”

For the Albertan taxpayer, this all amounts to $1.3 million in tax savings over the course of Lakeland College graduates’ careers.

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