TORONTO, Ontario January 20, 2014 /Canada NewsWire/ - Final calculations have confirmed that enrolment at Ontario's public colleges is at its highest level ever with a nearly five per cent increase in first-year, full-time programs.
"This is a strong indicator of the appetite that exists for the career-focused programs at the colleges," said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. "It's a difficult job market and students understand the need to be as prepared as possible to pursue meaningful careers."Enrolment in the first-year programs has increased to more than 125,000 students, with more than 220,000 students enrolled in all programs. Franklin said the increasing numbers of students entering college is important as the province works to address the skills mismatch that is hurting Ontario's economy.
Currently, many people seeking work can't fill the positions that are available because they don't have the right qualifications and advanced skills. The Conference Board of Canada estimates 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.
"Colleges are known for their strong relationships with industry and local businesses," said Franklin. "We have the flexibility to adapt our programs to the rapidly changing needs of the marketplace and ensure that graduates have the knowledge and skills to achieve long-term success."The colleges serve a diverse range of people seeking higher education, training and retraining. Increasing numbers of university graduates are among the increasing numbers of people pursuing college programs. In the last five years, the number of university graduates applying to college has increased 40 per cent.
Ontario's colleges serve 220,000 full-time students and 300,000 part-time students and clients. The colleges offer a range of programs including advertising, business, paramedicine, hospitality, game development, biotechnology and much more.
The most recent Key Performance Indicators released by the province show that even in the height of the recession nearly 84 per cent of college graduates found work within six months of graduation.
"In the years ahead, there will be an even greater demand for college graduates," Franklin said. "It will be essential that students have access to the career-focused programs available throughout the province."