Enrollment in the Red River Technical Vocational Area is holding steady.
About 500 students are registered in RRTVA programs this year with an additional 200 students enrolled in the High School Apprenticeship program, according to RRTVA Program Director Brenda Giesbrecht.
"Generally speaking our program numbers are consistent with the past. We have seen slight fluctuations in numbers in some of our programs but are hopeful that we will see growth in the future."
In an effort to draw more students into vocational programs, the RRTVA continues to provide tours of its facilities in their various locations to Grade 8 and Grade 9 students in the region. Tours are also offered to parents, community members and local employers.
"We're also in the process of producing videos for all of our programs that will be posted on our website. We have many events that we host throughout the year such as the Grade 8 Trades Camp and the No Limits For Girls in Trades in March, which is a partnership with Triple R Community Futures."
Giesbrecht noted it's difficult to predict which programs will be popular one year to the next. She cites their Baking and Pastry Arts program at Northlands Parkway Collegiate as an example in which they could have filled three classes this year alone.
"It ranges from year to year. At one point we have high numbers and then the following year we have to work on promoting one a little more than the other. I'm sure that happens in all post-secondary institutions as well."
The Pembina Valley's robust economy is helping to drive enrollment numbers as demand for skilled workers in the manufacturing industry continues to rise.
The RRTVA has tried shape its course offerings to some of that local business demand and students and parents are beginning to see the value in vocational programs and the career possibilities beyond high school that are emerging close to home.
The Enbridge Line 3 replacement program that is well underway in this region is an example of where companies have reached out locally to fill a demand for skilled workers.
"We've had former welding students that are currently working on the pipeline and are very appreciative for the education they received in high school. We've also had a student who graduated in June of 2018 that was offered three jobs because he was enrolled in the welding program. So, they've seen the value to the trades," said Giesbrecht.
Giesbrecht added many of their graduate students are currently employed in the region with plans of continuing their education through Apprenticeship Manitoba.