“Highly Skilled Workforce” report released by Government of Ontario

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On Thursday, June 23, 2016, the Premier’s Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel released its final report. The panel was created to help Ontario’s workforce, “adapt to the demands of a technology-driven knowledge economy.” Not surprisingly, the report contains multiple recommendations with implications for the province’s universities.

The report recognizes that good work is already being done to prepare people to pursue and support employment opportunities in knowledge-driven sectors. It also acknowledges that concerns about the so-called “skills gap” are often overblown. Of the 28 recommendations made by the panel, the following are the most relevant for the university sector:

  1. Ontario should commit to ensuring that every student have at least one experiential learning opportunity by the end of their postsecondary program.
  2. A Planning and Partnership Table should be established, chaired by representatives from employers, education, and government, to drive change and develop actionable solutions related to skills, talent development, and experiential learning opportunities.
  3. An inter-ministerial Workforce Planning and Development Office should be created with a mandate to, among other things, work with educational institutions and other stakeholders to monitor and discuss the impact of the changing nature of the workplace on the existing and new labour force.
  4. Sector specific partnerships between postsecondary institutions and employers should be incentivized through the Differentiation Framework Policy and the revised university funding model.
  5. Universities, colleges, and private career colleges should look at ways to shift focus to needed skills and competencies.

OCUFA welcomes discussion about how to support Ontarians as they prepare for a changing labour market, and what role universities can reasonably play in supporting this process. It is important to remember that universities play a variety of economic, social, and civic roles. The focus on skills development and job training should not be privileged over these other essential functions.

In the coming months, OCUFA will be engaging with the government as they seek to implement aspects of the Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel’s recommendations. We will be working to ensure good outcomes for students, while protecting the autonomy of our universities and the quality of the learning experience.

2 Responses to ““Highly Skilled Workforce” report released by Government of Ontario”

  1. Ronald Kurtz

    I am glad to see the Province and top business leaders and educators are requesting we take an important training initiative to build a knowledgeable, skilled, and able (competent) workforce. You advocate using experiential learning, following a national competency framework to standardize learning so that individuals can be assessed, qualified, and credentialed for a career discipline. What is missing from your report is who should be the driver for this initiative.

    Business/Government/NGO sectors (clusters) need to be the owners and operators of the learning system with Educators and Government Services providing program support. (Note: I believe all Canadians in every GDP sector be experientially trained, hopefully through full on the job apprenticeships/traineeships. Countries that follow this approach have more success in employment and career stability)

    Also, what is missing from your report is, once a national competency framework is established with occupation competency standards for each career discipline, how do we recognize an individual for their successful completion of their career training, Should the entities that create the standards be the certifiers either through a license to practice or certificate to perform work.

    I appreciate hearing back from you concerning my two comments above. Thank you for listening. Best regards. Ron Kurtz

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  2. Michael Calder

    Have you considered blending language training for newcomer youth (high school age) with initial training in trades? Newcomer youth who do not have sufficient language skills often struggle with post secondary options due to the limited level of overall high school learning achieved while they were also learning a new language. A program that blends language training with skills training in a trade might work both for the newcomer, who will have significantly improved job prospects leaving high school, as well as employers looking for dedicated tradespeople. The attraction for the newcomer youth would be several-fold; an opportunity to learn useable skills while acquiring language, a space where they fit in better with their direct colleagues (other newcomers), and a real chance at making a good wage once they finish their trade training.

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