Amidst declining oil prices, some attendees of the SAIT winter open house held on Feb. 6-7 cited personal fulfillment, not fear of layoffs, as their reason for considering further education.
The open house, which took place in the Stan Grad building and Aldred Centre, attracted thousands of visitors and produced 1,485 new applications for admission to various SAIT programs.
However, the sustained interest in continuing education didn’t appear to be related to the current economic downturn, despite earlier predictions.
“I am not here because of the economy at all,” said Andres Perdomo, a certified journeyman electrician who visited the open house on Saturday.
“I am here because I am looking to expand my knowledge and trade, not necessarily to start a new career,” he said.
Perdomo is currently considering managerial courses at SAIT to be able to pursue his long-time goal of starting a company.
He contends that economic upheaval should not influence one’s decision to go back to school.
“You should not have to wait until the economy is down to get a better education,” he said.
“Any time is a good time to better [oneself].”
Meanwhile, Edward Britton, who has an extensive background in operations management, attended the open house specifically to look into new career options.
However, like Perdomo, Britton’s decision to return to school has little to do with the current economic crisis.
“[My decision to come to SAIT] has nothing to do with the economy,” he said.
“It’s more of a personal choice to do something new [and] a bit more challenging.”
Nonetheless, Britton believes that going back to school with the intention of upgrading or changing careers is not a bad idea for those who are being affected by falling oil prices.
“There is no better time to [look into going back to school],” he said.
Robert Scribner, a third-year plumbing student who attended the open house, agrees that “now is a good time” for individuals in the oil industry to consider continuing their education for more career stability.
However, he remains optimistic about overall job prospects and the long-term economy.
“I know from experience that there are still a lot of projects that are a go [despite] the oil issue,” Scribner said.
“I think Albertans will be okay work-wise.”
One visitor who was thinking about the economy was Dylan Simmons, a 31-year old former IT specialist.
He said he had come to the open house to start thinking about new career paths after his company began downsizing.
“I want to use this time to discover interests I might not know I have” he said.
According to Samia Ebrahiem, a Construction Project Management (CPM) instructor who spoke to prospective applicants at the open house, it is not surprising that some individuals are more motivated to pursue further education because of the economy.
“There are people changing their mind about their careers, I can see that,” she said.
“Those people [are] mostly interested in short-term courses.”
However, Ebrahiem maintains that this trend does not seem to have risen significantly compared to other times when the economy was more stable.
You should not have to wait until the economy is down to get a better education. – Andres Perdomo
“Most of the people I’ve met here [at the open house] are younger students” as opposed to older, more experienced individuals looking to switch careers, she said.
According to Mo Keshavjee, an Open House organizer with the School of Information & Communications Technology, the number of applications handed in compared to about 7,200 submitted at the fall 2014 open house.
Last year, more than 5,600 applications were received at the fall open house. No figures were available for the winter 2014 event.
For more information about SAIT’s open house events and program offerings, visit SAIT.ca.
With files from Press reporter Matt Berard.