Alberta Association of Colleges & Technical Institutes

Alberta Association of Colleges & Technical Institutes

October 05, 2007 14:00 ET

Alberta Association of Colleges & Technical Institutes: The Business of Learning Injects $13 Billion Into Alberta's Economy Every Year

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Oct. 5, 2007) - The Alberta economy receives roughly $13 billion in income each year as a result of spending associated with learning provided by colleges and technical institutions and their students. This figure amounts to 5.5% of the total income in the provincial economy.

The economic benefit of post-secondary learning provided by the province's colleges and technical institutions is detailed in a recent study released by the Association of Alberta Colleges and Technical Institutes.

"This study shows real dollar returns for every tax dollar invested in learning in Alberta's colleges and technical institutes," said Honourable Doug Horner, Alberta's Minister of Advanced Education and Technology. "The numbers shows a 14% rate of return on our taxpayers investment in socioeconomic benefits to the province. These days most investors would consider that a pretty good payback."

Alberta's colleges and technical institutions make impact on the economy of the province in three ways: 1) through their purchases, including wages paid to faculty and staff, 2) through the spending of students, and 3) through a human capital effect stemming from an increase in the skill base of the workforce.

Roughly $458.2 million in income is generated annually due to the operations and capital spending of Alberta's colleges and institutes. In the past year new construction and major renovations have expanded learning capacity on several campuses throughout the province.

Student spending while attending college generates an estimated $130.l7 million in provincial income. With about 10% of students coming from outside the province to further learning, the money they bring to pay tuition, and support themselves while in school is new dollars flowing into the coffers of Alberta business, making a substantial impact on small businesses in the retail and service sectors in communities throughout the province. As many as 93% of our students stay in the province and continue to contribute to the economy.

There's no question that increased education increases lifetime earnings. "The booming economy has created a terrific demand for technicians and technologists in Alberta," according to Larry Stone, C.E.T., president of the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET).

"As a result we have seen the average salary for most technology professionals rise steeply in the last five years. Starting salaries are now in the mid to high $40,000 range, while technical institute/college grads with over 10-15 years experience are generally between $70,000 and $90,000," Stone explained.

Harder to measure, but perhaps most significant is the human capital effect on the economy stemming from an increase in the skill base of the workforce. Enhanced worker skills are an obvious benefit of college or technical institute learning. It's estimated that former students employed in the Alberta workforce representing around 57.6 million credits of past and present training at Alberta's colleges and institutes, helped to increase the provincial income by $10.4 billion.

In the big picture, skilled workers tend to be fully employed, benefit from higher earnings, and therefore help to expand the tax base and reduce the tax burden on individual provincial and local taxpayers. The provincial and local community can expect to see reduced social costs estimated at about $9 per year for every credit earned by students, including savings associated with improved health, reduced crime, and fewer welfare and unemployment claims. The survey predicts, for example, that based on the number of students enrolled in colleges and technical institutes in Alberta this year, there will be approximately 640 fewer claims for social assistance and about 1560 fewer criminal offences committed, savings taxpayers close to $400,000 per year.

"In the business and corporate sector, one of the most frequent terms used is return on investment," commented Tim Schultz, Executive Director of the Association of Alberta Colleges and Technical Institutes. "When it comes to investing in learning provided by colleges and technical institutions, the return on investment by both students and taxpayers, far outweighs the cost. Our students, for example, increase their annual income by more than $4,200 every year they study."

CCBenefits is a leading provider of socioeconomic impact and strategic planning tools to support community colleges and technical institutes. In this study, commissioned by the Association of Alberta Colleges and Technical Institutes, CCBenefits applied a comprehensive economic model designed to quantify the economic benefits of colleges and technical institutions and translate these into common sense benefit/cost and investment terms. This economic impact model has been subjected to peer review and field-tested to generate more than 700 studies for community and technical colleges in the U.S. and Canada. The study was jointly funded by AACTI and the provincial government.

For more information, interviews or photo opportunities, please contact the numbers below.

Editors: For a copy of the executive summary, go to


Money Talks: By the Dollars and By the Numbers

- $458.2 million in annual income for Alberta's economy, due to operations and spending of Alberta's colleges & institutes

- $130.7 million in annual income generated as expenditures by students from outside the province

- $10.4 billion increase in provincial income as a result of college skills embodied in the provincial workforce

- $13.0 billion in income received annually in Alberta economy due to past and present efforts of colleges and institutes

- $27.2 million worth of social savings annually as long as students are in the workforce

- $419.5 million annually in higher earnings for students due to their education

- $658.0 million in provincial and local government support of Alberta colleges and institutes in year 2006

- $3.80 is the cumulative return for every dollar invested by provincial and local government over the course of the students working career, 14% rate of return on investment

- $3.80 is the rate of return for every dollar of taxpayer support invested in learning provided by colleges and technical institutes

- $142 per year increase in annual income for every credit completed

- $4,274 per year increase for every full-time year completed

- $4.50 increase in lifetime earnings for every education dollar invested by the student, 16% rate of return on investment

- $44,100 average annual earnings of a student with a one year certificate

- $50,200 average annual earnings of a student with a diploma earned from a college or technical institute

- 268,075 credit and non-credit students attended Alberta colleges and technical institutes in the year 2005/2006

- 93% of graduating students stay in Alberta and contribute to the economy

Economic Contribution of Alberta's Colleges and Technical Institutes:
Analysis of Investment Effectiveness and Economic Growth,
Report prepared for The Alberta Association of Colleges & Technical
By CCbenefits Inc.
July 2007

Contact Information

  • Alberta Association of Colleges & Technical Institutes
    Tim Schultz
    Executive Director
    (780) 378-1277
    Alberta Advanced Education and Technology
    Donnae Schuhltz
    (780) 427-5450