Contributed by Colleges Ontario, Via the Canada News Wire Service
New measures to enhance career-specific degree programs at colleges, strengthen mental health supports for students, and transform apprenticeship training are among the priorities for Ontario's colleges in the upcoming provincial election.
"Every person in Ontario deserves an opportunity to pursue rewarding and well-paying careers in this fast-paced new economy," said Linda Franklin, the President and CEO of Colleges Ontario (the organization representing the administrations of the province’s two dozen public colleges). "This means college education in Ontario must be at its absolute best."
The 24 colleges officially launched their election platform on May 7. The platform, entitled “Enriching Ontario”, highlights four priority areas that will ensure greater numbers of students acquire the professional and technical expertise that leads to successful careers.
Colleges are calling for the provincial parties to enrich the opportunities for students by committing to the following:
• Revitalize college programs. Provide colleges with the ability to quickly design and implement leading-edge programs, including the expansion of career-specific degree programs;
• Strengthen mental health services. Commit to a whole-of-community approach to mental health that strengthens the supports and services available to postsecondary students;
• Produce more apprentices. Create a simplified, one-window application process to apprenticeship programs by expanding the college system's provincial application service;
• Invest in student success. Commit to the long-term sustainability of college education; and fund the expansion of science, technology, engineering, arts and math programs by 30 percent over four years.
More than 240,000 full-time students and about 300,000 part-time students are enrolled in the 900 programs at Ontario's colleges, in programs ranging from business, paramedicine, advertising, engineering, aviation, machining and animation to game development, biotechnology and 3D manufacturing.
Colleges serve a diverse range of students, including university and college graduates in post-graduate programs. The number of university graduates enrolled in colleges has increased by about 40 percent over the past five years, and more than 83 percent of college graduates find employment within six months of graduation.
"College education continues to open the door to many of today's most in-demand careers," Franklin said. "As accelerating automation and new innovations revolutionize our economy, it is essential that students get access to high-quality programs that give them a competitive edge with employers."
For more info about Colleges Ontario’s election platform, log on to http://enrichingontario.ca/enrichingontario/index.php/policy-priorities/