A complex workforce

But never before have we seen such a complicated workplace. New innovations and technology are transforming the way we do things and creating a demand for more highly skilled people in a myriad of fields.

It’s important to do research and make plans for the post-secondary journey. Even in this difficult economy, many employers can’t fill available positions because the people seeking work don’t have the right qualifications and advanced skills.

The skills and credential divide

The problem is known as the skills mismatch — the divide between the skills and credentials held by people looking for work and the qualifications employers are saying they need.

The Conference Board of Canada recently reported the skills mismatch costs Ontario as much as $24.3 billion a year in lost economic activity. Furthermore, the province is losing $3.7 billion annually in tax revenues.

"There is a growing need for more creative educational pathways, colleges and universities are working more closely than ever before."

Career focused programs

The vast majority of the jobs in the future will require post-secondary education, including apprenticeship training. Growing numbers of people are finding the best route into meaningful work is to pursue career-focused programs.

Ontario’s colleges offer 600 programs in everything from advertising, IT, film, and tourism to game development, animation, biotechnology, and much more. This year, applications to first-year, full-time programs at Ontario’s public colleges were at their highest level ever.

There has also been a dramatic increase in the number of students who pursue a combination of both college and university. In fact, in the last five years, the number of university graduates applying to college has increased 40 percent.

There is a growing need for more creative educational pathways, colleges and universities are working more closely than ever before. For example, Loyalist College in Belleville has just launched its new journalism program with Trent University, while the University of Guelph/Humber offers a wide range of options including business and kinesiology.  

Partnerships are important to student success. Not only are there improved agreements with universities, colleges enjoy strong, long-term relationships with industry. In collaboration with industry experts and partners, colleges regularly introduce new programs in order to train the next generation of workers in jobs that are in demand.

For example, in the last three years, new courses have been introduced that include mobile application development, biofuels and bioprocesses technician, digital cinematography and aquaculture.  

As part of the educational journey, there is a growing need for flexibility. It’s important that post-secondary education be compatible to all of our needs. This is especially true today where students can be any age and face a wide range of fiscal realities.

For example, online learning can allow people who aren’t able to attend traditional classroom settings to get access to new training or retraining. A combination of both online and in-class learning is also part of the changing educational landscape.

Ontario already has a highly successful model for online programs. It’s called OntarioLearn. It’s a consortium of Ontario’s colleges that registers more than 69,000 students each year.

OntarioLearn ranks as one of the largest providers of online course development and delivery in North America and could help make Ontario a world leader in online learning. Colleges are working with government to provide more opportunities for students to access post-secondary programs through online learning.

"With an uncertain job market, choosing a career path can be challenging but it can also be exciting.  Students must be encouraged to explore the full range of post-secondary programs available to them, and pursue programs that best fit their strengths and aptitudes."

The importance of partnerships

With an uncertain job market, choosing a career path can be challenging but it can also be exciting.  Students must be encouraged to explore the full range of post-secondary programs available to them, and pursue programs that best fit their strengths and aptitudes.

Ontario will have a strong workforce that will lead the way in the new innovation economy. Students are likely to land good jobs that use their skills and expertise.