Canada's prosperity at risk without a national road map for post secondary education, new report says

     Recommendation from the Canadian Council on Learning's second annual
     report on post-secondary education supported by broad coalition of
                            leaders and educators
    OTTAWA, Dec. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Council on Learning, with
support from organizations across the country, says that without the
development of a national post-secondary education strategy-such as those
adopted by many other nations around the world-Canada's prosperity will be at
risk and its competitive edge compromised.
    This warning was made in CCL's second annual report on the state of
post-secondary education, "Post-secondary Education in Canada - Strategies for
Success", which undertakes a comprehensive review of Canada's PSE sector,
including universities, colleges and apprenticeship programs.
    CCL concludes that Canada does not have the structures, practices and
mechanisms to maximize the PSE sector's social and economic contributions.
    To avoid running the risk of falling behind, CCL calls for the
development of a road map that will provide strategic direction for
post-secondary education-by setting goals and measuring progress-and makes
specific recommendations on how Canada could achieve this in order to remain a
"force to be reckoned with" on the international stage.

    Key Recommendations

    - The development of a national framework with the participation of PSE
      partners across Canada
    - The development and implementation of a national data strategy
    - The development of a series of benchmarks that measure Canadian
      progress through the efforts of the sector

    How a PSE strategy would benefit Canadians

    "By 2015, it is expected that 70% of all new jobs created in Canada will
require some post-secondary education or training," said Paul Cappon,
President and CEO of the Canadian Council on Learning. "For this reason, and
many others, we strongly believe that national action on a PSE strategy is
crucial to Canada's ongoing competitiveness in the global marketplace, and to
our continued high quality of life."
    A PSE strategy would offer a pragmatic approach that would promote
mobility, efficiency, effectiveness and equity across the country, while
providing benefits to all levels of our society. Most notably:

    - For learners: improved information regarding opportunities, better
      choices and responsive learning
    - For institutions: improved and more responsive programs
    - For governments: improved access to information on a national basis
      and more effective planning
    - For business and labour: improved ability to predict and respond to
      changes in Canada's workforce

    The importance of engaging the PSE community

    More than twenty organizations including universities, colleges, student
associations, business, and labour unions (see for complete
list) already agree on the urgent need to initiate talks regarding a national
framework for post-secondary education in Canada.
    "It is both lamentable and irresponsible that Canada, among all OECD
countries, has the weakest data on education and has developed neither a
pan-Canadian skills agenda, nor goals and measures for post-secondary
education," Jim Knight, President of the Association of Canadian Community
Colleges, said on behalf of Canadian colleges across the country.
    "CCL's report provides an excellent basis for Canadian action. We urge
policy makers at all levels to commit to a pan-Canadian skills agenda and to
place a priority on filling data gaps."
    Dr. Paul Genest, the president of the Council of Ontario Universities,
also added his voice to CCL's proposed strategies, saying "Ontario
universities welcome the call from the Canadian Council on Learning for a
national strategy on post-secondary education and research."
    "Higher learning and research are fundamental to enhancing productivity
and making us economically competitive, as well as playing a critical role in
fostering cultural development, contributing to government policy development
and encouraging civic engagement. A robust set of performance indicators and
quality measures will help enormously in fostering excellence in teaching and
research in our PSE system."
    CCL recognizes that any national approach to PSE should complement the
existing provincially-delivered model and respect institutional autonomy.
    In fact, Strategies for Success recommends building upon work already
being done by provincial governments.
    Geoff Plant, Special Advisor, Campus 2020, a report commissioned by the
Government of British Columbia on the future of post-secondary education in
that province, stated: "CCL's report challenges us to find ways to look beyond
provincial borders and engage in a truly pan-Canadian discussion about our
common vision, goals and objectives for post-secondary education and the
pressing need for collaboration and coordination across jurisdictions. "
    "This strong show of support demonstrates that CCL is not alone in raising
these concerns," said Cappon. "The time has come for all partners in PSE to
work collectively toward building coherent strategies, goals and information
structures that will ensure Canada's PSE sector will be capable of responding
to the social and economic demands of the 21st century. It is easier to lead
if you can clearly see the landscape, know where you stand and know where you
are headed."

    About CCL

    The Canadian Council on Learning is an independent, not-for-profit
corporation funded through an agreement with Human Resources and Social
Development Canada. Its mandate is to promote and support evidence-based
decisions about learning throughout all stages of life, from early childhood
through to the senior years.

    Future Directions

    Post-Secondary Education in Canada: Strategies for Success is the second
annual report on PSE published by the Canadian Council on Learning. Subsequent
reports will update key data and analysis on participation, attainment,
access, quality, results and benefits to build a baseline of information and
track changes over time. CCL's third report, to be released in autumn 2008,
will explore in greater detail key PSE priorities to enrich further the
national dialogue on strategies for success.

For further information:

For further information: Kelly Ouimet, Senior Communications Specialist,
Canadian Council on Learning, (613) 786-3230 x242,

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