Alberta colleges make significant impact on provincial economy


A new, province-wide study by Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) indicates that investing in Alberta colleges creates a significant return on investment for students, taxpayers, and society. 

Eleven colleges, including two southern Alberta institutions – Medicine Hat College and Lethbridge College – participated in the recent study which focuses on the impact students make in the community.

The study makes a compelling case that colleges, referred to as Comprehensive Community Institutions (CCIs) by the Government of Alberta, are an essential economic contributor to our province, adding $4.8 billion to Alberta’s economy in 2015-16 alone. 

The colleges enrich the lives of students by raising their lifetime incomes and helping them realize their potential. Alberta students are much better off with a post-secondary education, raising students' earning potential, and increasing their employability. Students with a college education earn more than individuals with a high school diploma. In fact, individuals with a college diploma in Alberta will earn $49,500 at the midpoint of their careers, $17,300 more than someone with a high school diploma; and will earn an estimated $640,100 more over their working lifetime.

Alberta CCIs are important employers in the province. The total income they created during the analysis year as a result of their day-to-day operations was $599.4 million, which is equivalent to supporting 5,968 jobs in the province. In the same year, new construction on college campuses equaled $24.3 million in added income for Alberta.

Taxpayers enjoy a wide range of benefits because of their investment in colleges. They benefit Alberta's taxpayers through increased tax contributions and decreased use of government-supported social services.  As students earn more, they pay higher taxes. The net present value of the added tax revenue stemming from higher lifetime student earnings and increased output of businesses amounts to $1.6 billion. The average annual return on taxpayer investment is 16.3 per cent.

Statistics also show that students with advanced education are more likely to develop good health habits, commit fewer crimes, and depend less on income assistance. Society will benefit from $87.2 million in present value social savings related to reduced crime, fewer demands for income assistance, and increased health and well-being across Alberta. For every $1 invested in colleges, society receives a cumulative value of $7.30 in benefits.

CCIs, such as the local Medicine Hat College Brooks Campus, add value to local businesses by increasing consumer spending and providing a steady flow of qualified, trained workers into the workforce. In turn, businesses that hire college graduates help build Alberta's communities. Approximately 90 per cent of students remain in Alberta once they achieve their educational goals, building careers, families, and communities that support the province's economy.

The enhanced skills of well-trained college students make the businesses that hire them more productive. The top industries impacted by Alberta colleges are Health Care & Social Assistance (~$1.2 billion); Public Administration (~$771 million); Utilities (~$437 million); Real Estate and Rental and Leasing (~$239 million); and Professional Scientific and Technical Services (~$226 million).

Today thousands of college alumni are also employed in Alberta. The accumulated contribution of former students employed in the provincial workforce amounted to $4.1 billion in added income or 35,600 jobs supported during the analysis year.

The balance of the provincial colleges participating in the EMSI study were: Bow Valley College, Grande Prairie Regional College, NorQuest College, Northern Lakes College, Olds College, Red Deer College, Keyano College, Portage College and Lakeland College.

Source: Alberta Campus News – with files

Posted on:
Wednesday, April 25, 2018