TORONTO, Sept. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - Applications to Ontario's 24 public colleges are at their highest level ever this year with 180,000 people seeking to enrol in first-year, full-time programs, Colleges Ontario announced today.
"Growing numbers of students continue to recognize the value of pursuing career-focused post-secondary programs," said Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. "It's more important than ever for young people to graduate with the advanced skills and qualifications needed in the new economy."
The number of applications has increased two per cent over 2012 and are 18 per cent higher than five years ago.
Franklin said it is encouraging to see more students pursuing college programs as the province tries to address the skills mismatch that is hurting Ontario's economy. The Conference Board of Canada has reported the skills mismatch costs Ontario as much as $24.3 billion a year in lost economic activity and the provincial government loses $3.7 billion annually in tax revenues.
The Conference Board says the skills gap will continue to be a problem as new innovations and technology transform the workplace, creating demands for more highly skilled people in a wide range of sectors.
"Employers and industry advisers are telling us they need workers who have the problem-solving abilities and the skills to hit the ground running," said Franklin. "The robust range of high-quality college programs provides the critical thinking and training needed to fit right into the economy."
Increasing numbers of university graduates are also pursuing college programs to help prepare them for success in their careers. In the last five years, the number of university graduates applying to college has increased 40 per cent.
Franklin said encouraging more students to pursue college programs as part of their post-secondary education will produce the highly skilled workforce that is needed to strengthen Ontario's economy.
Ontario's colleges serve 200,000 full-time students and 300,000 part-time students and clients. The most recent Key Performance Indicators released by the province show nearly 84 per cent of college graduates found work within six months of graduation.
"We will continue to work with businesses, governments and others to promote college programs that prepare people for long-term success," Franklin said. "Producing more college graduates will help close the skills gap and ensure more people have the opportunity to find meaningful work."
SOURCE: Colleges Ontario
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