TORONTO, Feb. 25, 2014 /CNW/ - Colleges, universities, business leaders and government must work together to address the serious youth unemployment and underemployment problem in Ontario, says Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario.
"The priority must be helping the many young people who are struggling to find good jobs," Franklin said. "That issue doesn't get resolved by publishing reports like the one we've seen today from the Council of Ontario Universities. Students, parents and the community expect us to be working alongside the business community and government on meaningful solutions."
More than 16 per cent of young people in Ontario are unemployed, while many others are underemployed in jobs that don't utilize their talents and skills. Much of the problem is due to the skills mismatch and the fact that many people seeking work don't have the credentials and qualifications to fill available positions.
The Conference Board of Canada estimates the skills mismatch costs the province more than $24 billion a year in lost economic opportunity. It also costs the province about $3.7 billion a year in potential tax revenues.
Higher education must be transformed to better serve students. In fact, the Ontario government has been meeting with post-secondary leaders throughout Ontario to discuss changes to higher education.
The province has taken some steps to address youth unemployment but more needs to be done. For example, growing numbers of students are seeking a mix of both college and university education. The number of university graduates enrolled in college has increased more than 40 per cent from five years ago. New measures are needed to help more students pursue a mix of college and university programs in a timely fashion.
Ontario must also elevate its post-secondary system to international standards by expanding the range of degree opportunities that prepare people for career success. To align with OECD practices, Ontario should allow colleges to offer three-year degree programs in career-specific areas.
Ontario college graduates are successful, with more than 83 per cent of graduates finding work within six months of graduation. To produce a more highly qualified workforce, greater numbers of people need access to college programs.
"All of us must be committed to helping more young people find meaningful work," Franklin said. "Ontario's colleges are eager to play their part."
SOURCE: Colleges Ontario
For further information: Karen Horsman, Manager, Media Relations and Communications, Colleges Ontario, 647-258-7686, firstname.lastname@example.org