In previous blog posts, we’ve largely focused on the skilled labour shortages across Ontario and Canada, shedding light on the incredible (and largely untapped) labour potential that regulated career colleges across the country present to our economies. In this month’s post, we are taking a look at how deeply rewarding a career college education can be for the individual pursuing it, coupled with the protection it can offer to lifelong learners from these turbulent economic times. Seen from this angle, the increased focus on encouraging skilled work isn’t just a way to plug the labour shortage gaps in our province and country, but rather about providing equal opportunity for all members of our society to participate in our economy more fully.
It’s no secret that the stigma surrounding skilled work is gradually dissipating. Largely thanks to a concerted government effort to promote the trades among youth, but also coupled by a relatively new sense of urgency in our society as we collectively realize how crucial skilled workers have become in the rebuilding of a pandemic-ravaged economy.
So as societal needs shift to encompass dire necessities such as housing, healthcare, and filling labour gaps in key sectors of the economy, so does the public discourse. When one of the largest clean power generators such as Ontario Power notes that “The number one risk affecting Ontario Power Generation (OPG) projects right now is lack of skilled trades” it becomes painfully evident how crucial skilled workers are to our collective wellbeing. How can we possibly dwell on the impossibility of finding skilled work while overlooking the incredible advantages that expedited, one-year programs have to offer in either training, re-training or upskilling individuals of all ages and backgrounds?
As the emphasis on developing skills that align with industry demands grows, Ontario’s regulated career colleges have been partnering with employers and industry professionals to ensure that curricula reflect the skills and knowledge needed in and ever-changing workforce. Work-integrated learning opportunities were pioneered at regulated career colleges, such as co-op programs, internships, and apprenticeships, are gaining increased prominence and prestige, giving students real-world experience and a competitive edge upon graduation.
In previous blog posts, we’ve largely focused on the skilled labour shortages across Ontario and Canada, shedding light on the incredible potential that regulated career colleges across the country present to our economies. This time however, we are flipping that approach and reflecting on the individual before the collective – how career colleges offer an opportunity to engage the more vulnerable members of our society into contributing to the economy in meaningful ways.
What often escapes the public discourse is that it’s not solely the high-school aged youth that present a massive portion of our province’s human capital ready to be harnessed into the workforce. Did you know that 40% of Ontarians in 2020 only had a high school diploma or less? A significant portion of that 40% of Ontarians live vastly different realities than most high-school aged youth and need to be taken into account in more flexible and personalized learning options.
If public policy were to equally emphasize promoting efficient pathways to the skilled labour force through regulated career colleges for those 40% of Ontarians that did not pursue further training after high school, we would have a lot more human capital to harness into more meaningful participation in the economy. Not to mention of course the great opportunity that this would provide for these less-credentialed – and thereby more vulnerable – members of the workforce to increase their income and quality of life.
Did you know that a welder in Ontario can make upwards of $150,000 a year? Or that a logistics supervisor can take home, on average, over $80,000 ?
John Finnan, co-author of the book “Trade-Up” bluntly summarizes the unarguable financial advantage presented by pursuing work in the skilled trades.
Here’s how his calculation works: It takes six years of post-secondary tuition to become a teacher. After their first-year earnings in the classroom, that leaves a surplus of $30,000. But a tradesperson who goes straight into work after high school would have earned $400,000 in that time – a $370,000 difference.
Now that doesn’t mean that no other post-secondary programs offer useful skills or worthwhile career paths. Every pillar of the post-secondary education system is equally crucial to a functioning society. What it does say, is that it is indeed a myth that the only path to a rewarding and financially secure future is the path that takes us through a 4-year study program.
But don’t just take it from us – make sure to scroll down for some real life examples of how a regulated career college education offers the unique opportunity for purpose driven, lifelong learners to upskill, re-skill, or simply gain the necessary tools to dive straight into the skilled workforce as quickly and efficiently as our economy needs them to.
Elvie Grace came to Canada with her children 10 years ago. After years of unsuccessful job-hunting, she realized that as an immigrant in Canada she faced many challenges and needed to get a Canadian diploma and work experience in order to find rewarding work. Working to support herself and her family, Elvie needed to find a program that worked with her schedule and lifestyle. Read more to find out how within just under a year she became a logistics supervisor. Click Here
Henry Maxwell struggled with childhood trauma and PTSD, and as a result addiction, eviction and imprisonment. When Henry was released from prison, he began to make courageous steps towards transforming his life. Henry’s path led him toward a postsecondary education, and he enrolled in Willis College’s Addictions Counseling and Community Services Worker program. Read more about how a career college education gave Henry the opportunity to enter the workforce and find a meaningful, rewarding career. Click Here
Geral J.E: “I’m a mother of twins, and life has not been easy. When I gave birth to them, we were living in a very noisy basement with one small window. I didn’t like the place because it was not healthy for my kids. I wanted my kids to grow up having their own rooms and a place where they could play in a backyard. However, I couldn’t afford a beautiful place like that.” Find out how a regulated career college education allowed Geral the opportunity to find meaningful work and contribute to a key healthcare subsector experiencing labour shortages across the country. Click Here