Candidates in the 2018 election must commit to providing Ontario’s colleges with the autonomy to develop cutting-edge programs for the new economy, including an expansion of career-specific degree programs at colleges.
“We need more graduates with the professional and technical expertise to land great careers,” said Glenn Vollebregt, President and CEO of St Lawrence College. “Colleges must acquire the flexibility to create programs that put us at the forefront of a rapidly changing world.”
Ontario needs a streamlined and effective system for developing new college programs. This would include the expansion of the colleges’ highly successful four-year degree programs and the development of career-specific three-year degree programs.
St. Lawrence College currently offers three degree programs, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Business Administration (in collaboration with Laurentian University), and SLC’s own Honours Bachelor of Behavioural Psychology.
These reforms will be pivotal to Ontario’s efforts to produce a more highly qualified workforce as artificial intelligence and robotics revolutionize the workplace.
It’s estimated more than 40 per cent of the Canadian labour force is at high risk of being affected by automation within the next 10 to 20 years. However, a 2015 report by Deloitte Canada found more than 85 per cent of employers aren’t fully prepared to handle the impacts of technological disruption.
Colleges have implemented new programs that respond to today’s innovations, including four-year degree programs in areas such as industrial design, digital animation and engineering.
Ontario needs to set clear provincial standards and give colleges the autonomy to create programs that meet those standards. This would include the creation of career-specific three-year degree programs and possible new credentials in areas such as apprenticeship training.
“College education today must align with the new economy,” Vollebregt said. “We need the flexibility to quickly and effectively design cutting-edge programs that help more people pursue rewarding careers.”