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College enrolment up

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | November 3rd, 2008

As baby boomers set to retire, the need for skilled workers remains on the rise.

According to Colleges Ontario, student enrolment is at an all time high with a 5.6 per cent increase over the last year.

It is a strong upward trend that has consisted of 95,805 students to join Ontario's 24 colleges for their studies.

Numbers are up from the previous year, where the student enrolment rate was 5.5 per cent.

Statistics Canada reported Canadian universities hit a record high for the fifth consecutive year during 2005/ 2006 wake of ongoing growth in the number of foreign students and young Canadian adults. An estimated 1,047,700 students registered for university classes, which is up three per cent from the previous year.

Canada's current economical state consists of uncertainties that have people questioning what will happen next.

According to Colleges Ontario, today's students are in high demand by employers in all sectors. As the years pass, and the baby boomers retire the need for skilled workers across Canada will only increase and more jobs will need to be filled.

The Conference Board of Canada estimates there will be a shortage of more than 360,000 skilled employees by the year 2025.

The more students who choose to apply and register for college or university will mean added costs to improving programs and upgrading facilities.

According to Sally Ritchie, Sr. Communications Officer of Colleges Ontario, the more students a college has, the more instructors, classrooms, equipment, buildings and residences it requires. As well, the cost of utilities and maintenance taxes increase.

Out of the 10 provinces, Ontario ranks in at the very bottom in overall standing when it comes to per-student revenue. Ontario colleges are under funded and receive less funding per student when compared to secondary schools and universities, according to the study.

“We think that a growing number of students are seeing that a college education provides excellent career opportunities. More than 90 per cent of graduates find jobs within six months of graduating, and 93 per cent of employers are satisfied or highly satisfied with their new employees. These are very persuasive numbers for a student who is looking for a postsecondary education that will prepare him or her for the workforce,” said Ritchie.

“As well, colleges have been working hard to expose and eradicate societal biases and simultaneously promote the value of college education and training. Earlier this year, we launched an ad campaign; our fictional “Obay” pills claimed to push parents' wishes on their kids. It drew widespread media and online interest. Students and parents alike are hearing this message and recognizing that college is a valid and valuable option for postsecondary education.”

Colleges across Canada are rigorously promoting the importance of a post-secondary education and what value it adds when joining the workforce.

“Postsecondary education is vitally and increasingly important for many people in today's economy,” said Ritchie. “More than 90 per cent of the net new jobs created from 1997 to 2006 went to people with postsecondary education.”

As of 2006, individuals who do not have postsecondary credentials have a higher rate of unemployment (15.5 per cent) than college graduates (7.8 per cent.)

Students need to be made aware that funding is available for those who apply. Whether it's through government grants or bursaries, colleges work hard to make it easier for students to receive an education that is vitally important for their futures.

According to Ritchie, “Colleges work very hard to provide accessible, affordable education and will continue to do so. Under the new tuition fee framework, colleges set aside a portion of their tuition fee revenue for student assistance. There are many grants, scholarships and bursaries available for students to apply for.”

Skilled employees are a vital part of our success and are required for a successful future.

“Students are our future,” said Ritchie. “The reality is that Canadians are retiring in huge numbers, and population growth is not sufficient to replace them — we are facing a critical shortage of skilled workers. College graduates, with their hands-on knowledge, will be an essential component of the future workforce.”

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