TIMMINS, ON – A representative from Northern College joined colleagues from post-secondary institutions across Ontario at The Summit on Talent and Skills in the New Economy held at Queen’s Park today. Presidents from colleges throughout the province stressed the need for the government to allow colleges to offer three-year degrees. They were joined by cabinet minsters, business leaders and Premier Kathleen Wynne.
“Now more than ever, employers are looking for workers that have a combination of the theoretical education typically attained through degree programs and the hands-on training offered at colleges,” says Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College. “Over the past five years, the number of degree holders applying to our colleges has increased 40 per cent, largely in part because people are seeking career-specific training to complement their university education. Students should have an option to obtain both simultaneously.”
Ontario’s colleges currently offer four-year degree programs that meet provincial standards for baccalaureate education. Colleges are only able to award diplomas or advanced diplomas for three-year programs, despite the fact that many three-year programs meet baccalaureate education standards.
In most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, graduates of three-year post-secondary programs, including career-specific programs, are awarded degrees. A decision by government to allow colleges to offer three-year degrees would recognize the quality of teaching and curriculum at Ontario’s colleges, and elevate Ontario’s post-secondary education system to OECD standards.
College-based three-year degrees would help meet employers’ demands for workers who possess the combination of a degree and career-specific, high-skills training. Creating new pathways for students to obtain both easily could also help alleviate labour shortages in many of Ontario’s key industries.
“Northern College is known for providing top-notch, career-specific training, but we also deliver many programs that have a strong, theoretical component,” says Gibbons. “These programs already meet three-year degree standards, and it would be of benefit to all of Ontario for that to be recognized. Students would then have a single pathway for earning a degree and receiving job-specific training.”
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