Presidents representing Ontario’s colleges today at a skills summit in Toronto hosted by Premier Kathleen Wynne will be stressing the need for government to allow colleges to offer three-year degrees.
“In today’s economy, we have to encourage more people to pursue postsecondary programs that prepare them for meaningful careers,” said George Burton, President of Canadore College.
“A decision to allow Ontario’s colleges to offer three-year degrees will help them to attract more students and produce a more highly-qualified workforce reflective of the current marketplace.”
The Summit on Talent and Skills in the New Economy takes place today at Queen’s Park. Cabinet ministers, college and university presidents, business leaders and others are among the event’s participants.
Currently, some publicly-funded colleges offer four-year degree programs that meet the provincial standards of baccalaureate education.
However, the province does not allow degree granting status for their three-year programs; it requires colleges to award diplomas to graduates of these programs.
A decision by government to allow colleges to offer three-year degrees would recognize the sophisticated teaching and learning that is offered in college advanced diploma programs, much of which is consistent with Ontario and international baccalaureate standards.
As well, three-year degrees would help meet employers’ demands for graduates who combine degree credentials with the high level of skills and education required to succeed in increasingly demanding careers, both in Ontario and beyond.
In most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, graduates of three-year postsecondary programs, including career-specific programs, are awarded degrees.
Providing a greater range of career-specific degree programs is important as the province strives to address the skills mismatch.
Many people, particularly young people, are unemployed or underemployed because they don’t have the skills and qualifications to fill available positions.
The Conference Board of Canada estimates the skills mismatch costs Ontario more than $24 billion a year in lost economic opportunity.
Growing numbers of students recognize that a college education can prepare them for the available opportunities.
Enrolment at Ontario’s colleges is at an all-time high and the number of university graduates enrolled in college has increased more than 40 per cent from five years ago.
“Ontario’s colleges offer a broad range of high-quality programs that help people pursue rewarding careers,” said Burton.
“It’s time for government to elevate higher education in Ontario to international standards by introducing three-year degree programs in our college system.”