Willis College to focus on health, IT education at new branch

Elizabeth Howell
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Ottawa’s Willis College plans to open a branch of its institution in Arnprior, focusing on health and information technology opportunities for students.

Ottawa-based Willis College is opening a new branch in Arnprior.

Personal support care workers and office administrators will be among the health positions offered at the institution to meet demand at the Arnprior & District Memorial Hospital, the Renfrew Victoria Hospital and associated nursing homes, said Chris Bissylas, Willis College vice-president.

In the near future, Willis also plans to expand its information technology worker agreement with Fortinet to include Arnprior.

Training materials from Fortinet are integrated into Willis College’s curriculum, and the information security giant – which is expanding rapidly in the west end – hires dozens of students a year from the college, Mr. Bissylas said.

“They hire 25 to 40 per cent of the class before they even graduate,” he said.

He anticipated that tech firms in Kanata would also be interested in recruiting students from the college.

Additionally, the township of Arnprior is looking at hiring students with business administration backgrounds who attend the Willis College branch in the area.

Recruitment is ongoing for the new location, with classes expected to start in late September or October. While enrolment is not finalized now (the new institution has yet to be registered, but in the final stages of approval with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities), officials are expecting 100 enrolled students in a year’s time.

This will add on to the 300 students currently attending Willis College and a branch that opened in Smiths Falls in 2009.

According to Mr. Bissylas, the Arnprior branch’s location at 39 Winners Drive Cir., in a plaza near Highway 417, will make it easy for off-campus students to make the commute to classes.

“Thirty per cent will come from the town and the rest from the surrounding communities: Pembroke, Carleton Place, Stittsville and Kanata,” he said, pointing out that the drive for residents in Stittsville and Kanata could be a better option than fighting traffic to head downtown.

An economic impact document from the college cites jobs, encouraging private-sector spending and economic diversification (by opening the first post-secondary institution in the region) as additional benefits of Willis College's presence in Arnprior.

The college is looking to open another location in eastern Ontario, perhaps in the Cornwall area, but no firm plans are established yet.

Organizations: Willis College, Arnprior District Memorial Hospital, Renfrew Victoria Hospital Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities

Geographic location: Arnprior, Kanata, Stittsville Smiths Falls Carleton Place Eastern Ontario Cornwall

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