Three-year degrees at Ontario colleges will help produce a stronger workforce

TORONTO, March 18, 2014 /CNW/ - College presidents will stress the need for government to allow Ontario's colleges to offer three-year degrees when they participate today at Premier Kathleen Wynne's skills summit.

"Ontario's employers are telling us that they need more graduates from post-secondary programs that are career-specific," said David Agnew, the president of Seneca College and chair of Colleges Ontario.  "Allowing Ontario colleges to offer three-year degrees will encourage more people to complete post-secondary programs that prepare them for meaningful careers."

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 participants at the summit.

Currently, colleges offer four-year degree programs that meet the provincial standards of baccalaureate education. However, the province requires colleges to award diplomas to graduates of three-year 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 OECD countries, graduates of three-year post-secondary 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 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 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.

"Our colleges deliver high-quality programs that help people find career success," Agnew said. "The government has a great opportunity to recognize our graduates with a credential appropriate to the advanced post-secondary education they are receiving."

Colleges Ontario is the advocacy organization for the province's 24 public colleges, which serve 220,000 full-time students and 300,000 part-time students and clients.

SOURCE Colleges Ontario

For further information: Karen Horsman, Manager, Media Relations and Communications, Colleges Ontario, 647-258-7686, horsman@collegesontario.org