Major study will explore why many young people don't pursue higher education

Durham College joins partners across Ontario in commissioning study

November 27, 2007

OSHAWA, Ont. – Durham College has joined with Ontario’s other 23 colleges and Colleges Ontario to commission the most comprehensive research study ever conducted into the attitudes of high school students who won’t be pursuing post-secondary education.

“Durham College is pleased to be partnering in this vital study that will help us better understand why too many young people are not pursuing a post-secondary education,” said Leah Myers, president of Durham College. “At Durham College our students graduate with the market-ready skills needed to obtain great careers and make a difference in the world. This gives them a distinct advantage in the marketplace at a time when 70 per cent of all new jobs require college or university credentials and one-third of Ontarians between the ages of 25 and 34 have only a high school diploma or less. This study will provide critical information about why more young people are not pursuing these benefits.”

This first-of-its-kind study is being conducted by Alan King and Wendy Warren of Queen’s University’s Social Program Evaluation Group (SPEG). The initial phase of the $250,000 study is scheduled to be completed next fall.

The study will seek to determine the characteristics of those secondary school students who do not proceed to post-secondary education and consider a broad range of variables, including demographics, education and geography. It will include interviews with respondents to help clarify, elaborate on, and gain insight into issues arising from previous studies and statistical analyses. Colleges Ontario will use the results to develop proposals to increase post-secondary attainment rates in the province.

Currently, there is a need to provide more training and retraining to people who have lost their jobs in the changing economy, particularly in sectors such as manufacturing and forestry. Furthermore, the province is on the verge of a major skills shortage. If current trends continue, Ontario will have a shortage of 360,000 skilled employees by 2025, affecting much of the province’s economy.

While Durham College plays a significant role in the training of thousands of skilled tradespeople through its nationally acclaimed Skills Training Centre in Whitby, Ontario, it recognizes greater numbers of secondary students must pursue this type of specialized training moving forward. In fact, Myers noted it is essential to the prosperity of our region, province and country that more young men and women in general attain post-secondary education and training.

“Increasing post-secondary education participation rates must be a priority if Ontario is to achieve its economic potential in the years ahead,” said Myers. “We know that a highly skilled workforce translates into a prosperous economy to the benefit of all Ontarians and indeed Canadians. By coming together for this study, Ontario’s colleges will be able to develop strategies to produce more highly skilled workers and will create opportunities for every Ontarian to succeed.”

Colleges Ontario’s funding partners for the study include the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

King and Warren are leading experts in Ontario on issues involving high school students and their perceptions of post-secondary education. Their past work has included an extensive study of the double cohort in Ontario following the restructuring of the province’s secondary school curriculum.

Colleges Ontario is the voice of Ontario’s 24 colleges of applied arts and technology. Ontario colleges serve about 200 communities throughout the province, delivering a wide range of career-focused education and training programs to more than 200,000 full-time and 250,000 part-time students.


About Durham College
Durham College is the premier college in Canada for career-focused students who will succeed in a challenging, supporting and inclusive learning environment. Offering approximately 80 full-time market-driven programs and hundreds of part-time and continuing education courses, the college has provided students with access to exceptional teachers with real-world experience for 40 years. With a graduate employment rate of over 90 per cent and employer satisfaction rate of close to 95 per cent, Durham College gives students everything they need to obtain great careers and make a difference in the world. The college has more than 6,100 full-time students, thousands of part-time students and almost 1,600 apprentices. For more information, visit or call 905.721.2000.

Media contact:

Melissa Levy
Communications and Marketing
905.721.2000 ext. 2513


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