Edmonton’s largest technical school is turning more hopeful students away than ever before.

Business is booming at NAIT, officials say, as enrolment applications have increased by more than 20 per cent over last year.

“Certainly with an economic downturn people think about upgrading their skills or perhaps looking at different career options,” said NAIT spokeswoman Ruth Juliebo.

“It has a lot to do with the economy,” agreed Bruce Belbin, associate vice-president of student services. “During economic times that are uncertain, like we’re in now, numbers tend to go up in post-secondary institutions. And that’s the case with us.”

NAIT has turned away over 7,500 applicants this year but Belbin said his colleagues across the country are experiencing similar increases.

Applicants turned away aren’t left without hope however, Belbin said, adding NAIT tries to find potential students a second option.

Officials are now faced with the challenge of limited physical space and, Belbin said, adding a greater focus on online education is helping ease the burden.

“We’re really endeavouring to expand as aggressively as we can. Online is a futuristic way to learn and people like it,” he added.

“NAIT has definitely become a destination for learning, and that’s a good place to be.”