Career colleges are private (both for-profit and not-for-profit) post-secondary institutions that provide career-specific, outcome-based programs. Graduates of career colleges can earn a diploma or certificate. Over 43,000 students enroll annually in Ontario’s career colleges alone. Considered a “bridge to Ontario’s workforce”, the career college sector produces more than 30,000 career-ready graduates yearly to meet the pressing demand of the province’s employers at a minimal cost to taxpayers.
The educational focus of career colleges is on meeting student need and providing career-specific training. The range of programming that a career college offers is as general as business, health care and technology to as specific as travel and welding. Despite the wide variety of programs available, career colleges are unified by the characteristics that set the sector apart from traditional public models of higher education:
Like the career colleges themselves, the types of students who choose to attend a career college is quite diverse. While some students enter a career college directly out of high school – the average age is approximately 34. More than half of career college students are over the age of 30, with only 9 per cent enrolling directly out of high school.
A significant proportions of career college students who were born in Canada have attended a post-secondary institution in this country (56 per cent), with an even higher proportion of first-generation immigrants (66 per cent) having attended a university or college in another country. The majority of those who have previously attended university or college have completed a credential (degree, diploma, certificate…) at these other post-secondary institutions.
Students use a variety of options to fund their course of study including personal funds, Employment Insurance (EI) funds, WSIB sponsorship, or government-sponsored student loans (OSAP).
The demand for highly skilled employees is on the rise and the specific outcome-based nature of the training offered by career colleges ensures that graduates are “job ready” upon graduation.
The nature of work today is constantly changing and growing; so too are the needs of employers. Given the inherent flexibility of the career college sector, career colleges can adapt quickly and efficiently to the shifting landscape of the career environment to provide expedient, practical training at a high-quality government standard, which quickly meets the needs of graduates and employers.
Hence, career colleges not only meet the flexibility needs of the student but are also constantly changing to reflect the demands of the employer and marketplace.