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

2014-03-18

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.

“We must encourage more people to pursue post-secondary programs that prepare them for meaningful careers,” said Glenn Vollebregt, President and CEO, St. Lawrence College. “A decision to allow Ontario’s colleges to offer three-year degrees will help colleges to attract more students and produce the more highly qualified workforce that is needed in this economy.”

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.

“Ontario’s colleges offer high-quality programs that help people pursue rewarding careers,” Vollebregt said. “It’s time for government to elevate higher education in Ontario to international standards by introducing three-year degree programs at the colleges.”

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For more information:

Laura Tulchinsky
613-544-5400, ext. 1291
613- 329-2451
ltulchinsky@sl.on.ca