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Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST)

SIAST was established by provincial legislation in 1988 within a policy framework outlined in Preparing for the Year 2000: Adult Education in Saskatchewan. It provides vocational and technical training that responds to provincial and national labour market needs. The merging of the province’s four existing technical institutes and urban colleges (Saskatchewan Technical Institute and Coteau Range Community College in Moose Jaw; Wascana Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences and Regina Plains Community College in Regina; Kelsey Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences, Advanced Technology Training Centre, and Saskatoon Region Community College in Saskatoon; and Northern Institute of Technology, Prince Albert Regional Community College, and Meadow Lake Vocational Centre) into one institution enabled it to respond quickly to changing technologies and shifts in employment demand.

The roots of the four technical institutes can be traced to vocational and academic training centres set up during World War II to assist with rehabilitating and training war veterans. In Saskatoon, the Canadian Vocational Training School, established in 1941, was the forerunner to SIAST Kelsey Campus. It was named the Central Saskatchewan Technical Institute in 1963, and given an expanded mandate to provide credit training in a wide range of occupations. Renamed the Saskatchewan Technical Institute of Saskatoon in 1967, it continued to expand its course offerings and enrollment.

SIAST Wascana Campus began as centres offering adult education and wartime training. The Regina Vocational Centre provided training in what was originally the residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan. In 1972, the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences (SIAAS) opened the School of Nursing at the Regina General Hospital, with Health Sciences as the first division. In 1973, it was renamed the Wascana Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences (WIAAS). New programs in agriculture, vocational education and extension led to many campus moves to accommodate program expansion. In 2000, all Wascana campus programs were consolidated in a single building, formerly the Regina Plains Health Centre.

SIAST Palliser Campus started in 1958 under the name of Saskatchewan Technical Institute (STI). It was to provide a central facility for continued education in various technical and trade occupations. Temporarily located in Regina until the new construction was completed in Moose Jaw, the new technical institute opened in 1961. In 1963 some programs were transferred from the Canadian Vocational Training School in Saskatoon. Through the 1960s the institute in Moose Jaw expanded rapidly; its name changed several times, reverting back to Saskatchewan Technical Institute (STI), from 1968 until 1987.

SIAST Woodland Campus originated in programs initially delivered by vocational training centres in northern Saskatchewan and Natonum Community College in Prince Albert. A community action committee in the mid-1970s led to a provincial announcement in 1981 to build a fourth provincial technical institute in Prince Albert. The Northern Institute of Technology, which opened in 1985, was designed to offer adult education and training programs in more than thirty areas, with special emphasis on programs that reflected the training needs of people living in northern Saskatchewan.

In 1988 the new institute, SIAST, operated as an autonomous organization, with a president and a board of directors. In 1997, SIAST moved toward becoming one provincial institute. This entailed a name change for each campus, the formation of SIAST-wide divisions with provincial deans (each responsible for programs at several campuses), and a campus director located at each campus. As the province’s second largest public training institution, its mandate is to deliver technical education and trades training, as well as adult basic education, to certify training, and to facilitate brokerage and delivery of programs to other technical institutions, colleges, professional bodies, or industry. The institute offers a wide range of full-time and part-time, credit and non-credit opportunities through Extension Services. SIAST also provides customized training for overseas clients in trades and technology, and training to international students through its International Services.

SIAST works closely with industry through trade boards with the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission in order to provide training for apprentices in the majority of Saskatchewan’s apprenticeable trades. Linkages between SIAST and the province’s two universities occur primarily at the program level through credit recognition and transfer, and in the delivery of extension university courses at its Prince Albert and Moose Jaw campuses. SIAST is also working with private vocational schools and industry for credit transfer arrangements to enhance student mobility and employer recognition. In 2001 SIAST officially launched a fifth campus, the “Virtual Campus,” a technology-enhanced learning (TEL) initiative that expanded its borders. SIAST is also involved in Campus Saskatchewan, through which it works with other post-secondary institutions to use TEL to increase opportunities for people in Saskatchewan to access high-quality education and training.

SIAST would not have become what it is today without influences that helped define the role of public training institutions in the development of the province. These include increased provincial and federal interest in building the nation’s economy, new converging workforce needs in industry, and increasing federal involvement in technical and vocational education through federal provincial agreements for funding over nine decades.

Lorne Sparling

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This web site was produced with financial assistance
provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada and the Government of Saskatchewan.
University of Regina Government of Canada Government of Saskatchewan Canadian Plains Research Center
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Diversification de l'économie de l'Ouest Canada et le gouvernement de la Saskatchewan.