SAULT STE. MARIE -- With the aim of growing the computer science talent pool in northeastern Ontario, Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie and Northern College in Timmins are offering a new dual credential program.

Beginning in September, students will be able to earn a Computer Engineering Technician Diploma and a Bachelor of Computer Science Degree in just three years.

Algoma University President Asima Vezina said the information and communication technology sector (ICT) is in constant need of fresh talent, which is why the university is partnering with Northern College to help meet that demand.

“We’re seeing 100 per cent employment post-graduation, students are working in their field, they’re getting very good jobs,” said Vezina. “We’ve just finished the first part of a consultation with communities right across the northeast and it is the one program that’s coming out loud and clear -- we need more graduates out of the ICT area.”

Vezina said students taking the program at Northern College won't have to relocate to Algoma to finish their studies.

“We do have a lot of agreements with the college where students can do two years, stay at home for two years and come to Algoma for two years. But this one will be offered right on the Northern College campus in Porcupine,” she said.

Dr. Audrey Penner, president of Northern College, said the aim of the ongoing partnership is to expand degree access to students across northeastern Ontario.

“Students will now have access to and now graduate with a dual diploma and a baccalaureate in an IT field,” said Penner.

“This is a first of its kind in Ontario -- a powerful combination -- all the while staying here in northeastern Ontario.”