TIMMINS, ON: Northern College is urging provincial election candidates to support the establishment of career-specific degree programs at Ontario’s 24 colleges as a strategy to enhance the province’s workforce.
“Ontario needs to focus on youth unemployment and underemployment,” says Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College. “By allowing colleges to offer career-specific degree programming, we’ll be able to help learners achieve a powerful complement of high-skills training and strong theoretical understanding. This will arm graduates with the skill-set employers are seeking and help them find meaningful careers while growing our industry and economy.”
In most countries, graduates of three-year, career specific programs earn a degree. Although many three-year programs at Ontario colleges already meet provincial standards for undergraduate education, graduates are awarded diplomas or advanced diplomas. Allowing colleges to issue three-year degrees would ensure that students earn credentials that properly recognize their achievements, allowing them to compete with college graduates from other regions more effectively.
Research done for the government has confirmed the colleges can deliver effective degree programs. A report by consultants on four-year degrees at colleges found the colleges deliver high-quality programs in areas such as aviation technology, industrial design and digital animation. The range of four-year degree programs should be expanded.
Growing numbers of students recognize the value of college education. Enrolment at Ontario’s colleges is at an all-time high and the number of university graduates enrolled in college programs has increased more than 40 per cent over the last five years. Ontario’s next government must build on this success and ensure that more people get access to career-specific post-secondary programs that prepare them for well-paying jobs when they graduate.
Colleges Ontario, an advocacy organization for the province’s 24 colleges of applied arts and technology, has officially launched Better Jobs and a Stronger Economy. The website details the issues that colleges across the province are calling on the government to focus on. Sector-wide priorities not only place emphasis on expanding college degree programs, but also on reforms to the apprenticeship system, commitments to funding in support of programming and addressing the backlog of deferred maintenance at the province’s academic institutions..
“Ontarians deserve choice and improved access to higher education,” says Gibbons. “We’re calling on candidates to support these important reforms to strengthen the post-secondary environment and Ontario’s workforce.”
For more information on the recommendations from Ontario’s 24 colleges, visit collegesontario.org/2014-election.
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