Lethbridge College engineering technology grads high in demand by employers despite COVID-19 impacts
01, Mar, 2022
EDMONTON, March 1, 2022 – In light of the pandemic and ongoing concerns about the economy, there are few certainties in life right now. However, one thing Lethbridge College engineering technology graduates can be sure of is landing jobs within their profession after graduation.
According to a pre-pandemic survey, 100 per cent of Lethbridge College civil engineering technology graduates had found gainful employment in their field within a year of graduation. For engineering design and drafting technology grads, that figure was 92 per cent. For geomatics engineering technology, it was 100 per cent.
And, while the hiring of Lethbridge College engineering technology graduates may have initially slowed with the emergence of COVID-19, faculty are now being inundated with job postings for program graduates.
The irony is that, despite the high marketability of engineering technology skills, some of Alberta’s technical colleges and polytechnics, including Lethbridge College, have seen dips in enrolment since COVID-19. For Lethbridge College, these mild decreases simply reflect program-to-program pre-pandemic trends.
Civil engineering technology, for example, typically has and continues to draw the most students, geomatics engineering technology the least. Edith Olson, Lethbridge College’s chair, school of engineering technologies, chalks up past and present trends to a lack of public awareness of engineering technology as a diverse, rewarding and well-remunerated profession, and of the ongoing demand for skills program graduates acquire.
“In the case of geomatics, high school students pondering post-secondary education don’t know what it is,” said Olson. “It’s a cool profession with an abundance of opportunities and interesting subject matter: the earth, mapping, satellite imagery, drones, lidar. Employers are falling all over themselves to snap up our grads.”
Some geomatics engineering technology grads work in the field gathering data with survey instruments, GPS and drone imagery. Others are in the office, using software to process and analyze data. Still others are involved in the design and management of databases, tools and applications for large organizations and government departments.
On the world stage, geomatics engineering technology professionals were instrumental in strategizing a way to rescue the soccer team that was trapped in a cave in Thailand in 2018. Geomatics also factored into predicting where to locate the wreckage of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 that went down in 2014.
Closer to home, Dene Gott, a Lethbridge College geomatics engineering technology graduate and member of the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET), found that a career in geomatics engineering technology was a perfect fit for his interests in math, science and being outdoors.
“When I graduated, I had multiple job offers from employers offering wages above industry standards. As a result, I was working within two weeks of graduation,” said Gott.
“Because engineering technologists are critical contributors to all sectors of Alberta’s industry and economy and vital to its post-pandemic economic recovery, more must be done to attract people to these professions,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh. “It’s imperative to boost enrolment at the polytechnics and technical colleges and maintain funding for the engineering technology educational programs they expertly provide.”
Nothing works in Alberta without ASET members; they are the behind-the-scenes, hard-working people who keep this province safe. ASET members represent a wide range of sectors, including civil engineering and construction, avionics, biomedical, chemical, computers, electrical, environmental, geological, instrumentation, oil and gas, and telecommunications. From the moment Albertans wake up in the morning and turn on a light switch or shower until the end of the day, they rely on the work of these professionals.
Technicians install cable and phone, monitor traffic, work in labs, and serve as process workers in refineries and manufacturing. Technologists design plans with engineers, create commercial buildings and return well sites properly to nature. They ensure fast-acting telephone networks, smart bus connections, proper water pressure at home, perfectly clean water to drink, reliable natural gas service and electrical power, smooth roads for driving, and responsible oil and gas exploration/production/processing and distribution.
ASET is the professional self-regulatory organization for engineering technologists and technicians in Alberta. ASET currently represents over 16,000 members, including full-time technology students, recent graduates and fully certified members in 21 disciplines and more than 120 occupations across a multitude of industries.
Michele Penz, Calico Communications for ASET