BATHURST (NB), POINTE DE L'ÉGLISE (NS), WELLINGTON (PEI) - January 28, 2013 – Thanks to a partnership with Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB), starting in September 2013, Université Sainte-Anne (Nova Scotia) and Collège de l'Île (Prince Edward Island) will offer a new specialized program in welding.

This cooperation between the three Francophone post-secondary institutions will enable students in rural or minority settings to take a specialized vocational training program. From the CCNB – Campus de Bathurst, teachers will offer training via videoconferencing to the various training centres, including Université Sainte-Anne and Collège de l'Île

"Skills development and labour force planning are important parts of the Atlantic Shipbuilding Action Plan," said the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Associate Minister of National Defence and Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie). "This collaborative approach to preparing Francophones across our region for a projected increase in metal trades is one of the positive spin-offs that are expected with this shipbuilding initiative."

According to the CCNB's CEO, Liane Roy, "the CCNB, an independent institution focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation, is looking forward to this project, especially since it relies on new technology. Our partnership with Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia reaffirms the need for Francophone and Acadian institutions to collaborate with each other in order to provide quality training programs in French. This pilot project will provide means to assess training program delivery mechanisms and to determine whether vocational training in the French language meets both student and industry needs."

Allister Surette, President and Vice-Chancellor of Université Sainte-Anne, is equally enthusiastic about this project, which is a first. "Université Sainte-Anne has twenty years of experience in training via videoconferencing; however, the welding program opens up a new dimension, which is the delivery of vocational training through videoconferencing, along with field work practice. The partnership that we are announcing today will strengthen the links between our university and industries, communities, and Acadian post-secondary institutions", Mr. Surette said with pride.

According to Donald Desroches, President of Collège de l'Île, "it is very important that our colleges and universities work in synergy to meet the needs of Acadian and Francophone communities throughout the Maritimes. This training program — which we wish to extend to several other trades — will help meet a growing need for skilled labour specifically in the welding sector for the mega-projects in Atlantic Canada."

The training program includes approximately 30 percent theory and then students take part in workshop projects and work placements in local businesses. The partnership with businesses specializing in welding is therefore a crucial one. The training program is 40 weeks long; it will begin in September and will accommodate fourteen (14) students.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the Réseau des cégeps et des collèges francophones du Canada (RCCFC) and the Consortium national de ressources pédagogiques en français au collégial (CNRPFC) are all important partners in this pilot project.

The Government of Canada is supporting this innovative partnership with an $87,450 investment through ACOA's Economic Development Initiative (EDI), a component of the federal government's 2008-2013 Roadmap for Linguistic Duality. The Roadmap aims to strengthen linguistic duality, reinforce Canada's national identity and provide economic benefits for all Canadians.