Almost every student who graduated from the New Brunswick Community College in Fredericton in 2006 was working a year later. A new survey released this week by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour shows that 98 per cent of those interviewed found a job.

“We are very pleased,” said Heather Hathaway, director of the Fredericton community college campus. “The high employment rate of our grads speaks to the demand in the local area for these grads. It is incredible.”

She said six of the college’s programs had a 100 per cent employment rate, including: health-care aide, health unit co-ordinator, human services, office administration, practical nurse and teacher’s assistant. Hathaway said most people in Fredericton don’t know how successful the community college is when it comes to finding jobs for graduates.

“We are one of the best kept secrets here in Fredericton,” she said.

There were 69 graduates from the community college in Fredericton in 2006 and 48 responded to the survey done in June. The result show 46 of 48 were employed, one was unemployed and one wasn’t in the work force. The survey also found that 96 per cent stayed in New Brunswick.

“The majority do stay here in Fredericton,” said Hathaway. “We try to match them up with local employers as much as we can.”

She said it isn’t unusual for her to meet former graduates years later when they are managers at the business where they started their career.

The Fredericton campus has just fewer than 200 students this year.

“This year we are at capacity,” said Hathaway.

She said health-sector courses are popular.

“We have increased our practical nurse program to 24 seats to try and ease the demand that is out there,” said Hathaway. “They all got work.”

It costs between $2,600 and $10,000 to attend community college in Fredericton for a year, depending on the program.

Across the province, the survey found 91 per cent of 1,894 graduates from the class of 2006 were working a year later and 87 per cent stayed in the province.

That’s up from 90 per cent in the survey from the previous year.

“These results are a testament to the excellent level of instruction delivered at our community colleges and also speak to the hard work of our graduates,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Ed Doherty in a news release.

He said the survey is an excellent tool for students considering programs offered at the community college.

Among the job categories that enjoyed 100 per cent employment across the province were welders, electricians and machinists.

This comes as no surprise to David Plante, New Brunswick vice-president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

“You hit the top three,” he said. “I will probably get an e-mail a week from a manufacturer (seeking those trades).”

Plante said a survey of manufacturers across the country shows that 32 per cent of more than 1,000 respondents said a shortage of skilled workers is constraining their growth.

He said the training has to be flexible and targeted towards the skills sets that are required in today’s changing global economy.

“It is a complex issue,” said Plante. “There are opportunities, but we have to do it right.”

The lowest employment rate for NBCC graduates was elementary and secondary school teacher assistants at 35 per cent.

Charles Cirtwill, acting president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, said doing an annual survey of community college graduates is a smart idea.

“This goes to the point that there is an important role for community colleges to play in the education environment and that is tailoring education to the existing needs of industry at the time,” he said.

“Clearly in New Brunswick they are doing it well.”

“Really it comes down to being very aggressive in maintaining those relationships with industry and following up with your graduates to find out what has changed in their field of study.”