New measures to enhance career-specific degree programs at colleges, strengthen mental health supports for students and transform apprenticeship training are among the priorities for Ontario’s colleges in the upcoming provincial election.
“Students in Durham Region and across Ontario deserve the best college education they can get,” said Don Lovisa, president Durham College (DC). “We know that by calling for, and actioning these new measures, we will find more opportunities to help our students be successful and ensure they continue to find meaningful work upon graduation.”
The 24 colleges officially launched their election platform today. The platform, Enriching Ontario, highlights four priority areas that will ensure greater numbers of students acquire the professional and technical expertise that leads to successful careers.
DC strongly supports the priority areas identified in the platform. The colleges are calling for the provincial parties to enrich the opportunities for students by committing to the following:
- Revitalize college programs. Provide colleges with the ability to quickly design and implement leading-edge programs, including the expansion of career-specific degree programs.
- With the launch of the new Bachelor of Health Care Technology Management degree and six additional new programs in September 2018, DC continues to focus on meeting the evolving needs of employers and industry professionals.
- Strengthen mental health services. Commit to a whole-of-community approach to mental health that strengthens the supports and services available to post-secondary students.
- DC currently provides an assortment of support services for students including: Aboriginal Student Centre; Access & Support Centre; Coaching; Outreach Services; Student Academic Learning Services; and the Office of Student Diversity, Inclusion & Transitions.
- The community-of-whole approach will strengthen the services already provided by the college to ensure that all students who need support receive the support they require to be successful.
- Produce more apprentices. Create a simplified, one-window application process to apprenticeship programs by expanding the college system’s provincial application service.
- On March 5 Women in Skilled Trades Durham College (WISTDC) hosted a networking event for female students studying in the School of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship and Renewable Technology. WISTDC is dedicated to creating opportunities for female students in DC’s skilled trades programs to connect and network with other women working in skilled trades.
- There are growing career opportunities for skilled trades and we need a different approach to ensure students and employers needs are met.
- Invest in student success. Commit to the long-term sustainability of college education and fund the expansion of science, technology, engineering, arts and math programs by 30 per cent over four years.
- DC recently celebrated student success through the annual Celebrate STEAM exhibition that took place on April 18 where students displayed more than 25 applied research projects, including projects in artificial intelligence, exploring student achievements in STEAM. Participating students gained real-world professional experience by solving industry and social challenges through applied research, innovation and collaboration to address the needs of a technology-driven knowledge economy. Colleges have the capacity to contribute much more to science, technology and trades and only require the supports to expand.
More than 240,000 full-time students and about 300,000 part-time students are enrolled in the 900 programs at Ontario’s colleges, in programs ranging from business, paramedicine, advertising, engineering, aviation, machining and animation to game development, biotechnology and 3D manufacturing.
Colleges serve a diverse range of students, including university and college graduates in post-graduate programs. The number of university graduates enrolled in colleges has increased by about 40 per cent over the past five years and more than 83 per cent of college graduates find employment within six months of graduation.
“College education ensures people entering the workforce are job-ready. Our graduates have the skills and qualifications they need to be successful,” said Lovisa. “This election provides a tremendous opportunity to ensure college education remains at the forefront of new innovations and a rapidly evolving economy.”