TIMMINS, ON: Northern College is calling for the Government of Ontario to focus on youth unemployment and underemployment during the government’s spring session, which starts today.
More than 16 per cent of Ontario youth between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed, while many others are working in jobs that fail to fully utilize their talents and competencies. Most are lacking the high-skills training needed to fill current and projected vacancies in high-paying, high-skilled fields.
The provincial government did take steps last year to address the issue, including the launch of the Ontario Youth Employment Fund which supports work placements for young people. Northern College is now looking to the government to shift priorities and implement broader policy measures that better align higher education and training with the needs of the job market.
“Colleges are major providers of the kind of job-specific training that leads to lifelong careers,” said Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College. “Implementing measures to increase accessibility to specialized education and training should be a major priority for the province. If Queen’s Park were to commit or redirect more resources to helping our youth acquire the requisite high-skills training to participate in the knowledge economy, we could begin to lower youth unemployment and close the skills gap.”
Northern states that provincial measures contained in the government’s Policy Framework to transform post-secondary education should include expanding the range of degree programs in career-specific areas. This would include elevating Ontario’s post-secondary system to international standards by allowing colleges to offer three-year degree programs.
The college is also calling for reforms to apprenticeship training, and for the province to continue to strengthen its system for transferring completed post-secondary credits. This would allow for a greater number of students to acquire a combination of both college and university education.
“Our goal is to provide equitable access to the kind of education and training that leads to long-term success,” said Gibbons. “If we can help our youth gain the skills needed to meet the demands of industry, we’ll be tackling several problems at once. This will not only lead to individual success, but will help to grow the economy, facilitating prosperity for our communities and the province as a whole.”
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