Ontario universities welcome Youth Jobs Strategy as complement to their initiatives that help students succeed
TORONTO - Ontario universities are actively engaged in producing a highly skilled workforce that will boost Ontario's knowledge-based economy, and welcome the provincial government's Youth Jobs Strategy as another component in helping students succeed.
"Graduates leave our institutions with the knowledge and critical thinking skills they need to move across many occupations over their lifetime in an increasingly complex job market," says Alastair Summerlee, Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and President of the University of Guelph.
"Ontario universities endorse any effort by government to create new job opportunities for our graduates in this economy, and to support our innovators and entrepreneurs."
In its 2013 provincial Budget, the Ontario government announced it is investing $295 million over two years as part of a youth employment strategy, which it estimates will create 30,000 new jobs.
The strategy includes youth entrepreneurship innovation funds to support the next generation of job creators, as well as a fund to connect business, labour, educators and youth in another effort to help prepare students for their careers.
This new strategy recognizes the success of universities' initiatives in innovation and entrepreneurship. In part, the new strategy will provide more support to on-campus startup incubators, and foster an even greater level of entrepreneurial activity by university students.
"Our university graduates get jobs faster than those with any other level of education, but they also rely on the support of business and government to succeed," says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO.
"Universities are creating more internships and co-op placements with employers than ever before to give students real-life experience and to introduce business leaders to potential employees. Action from government on youth employment will have a positive influence on our ability to ensure students' success in the workplace."
Universities are preparing students for the future with rigorous academic programs, greater attention to innovation skills, increased online learning, spaces for student startups and work-integrated learning opportunities.
They endeavour to protect a quality learning experience for students, ensuring they are equipped with the problem-solving and communication skills as well as global understanding valued by employers today, despite the dual fiscal challenges of a reduced tuition cap and cuts to operational budgets.
A reduced tuition cap, announced in March, followed a cut in operating grants announced in the last provincial budget of $40 million in 2013-14 and nearly $80 million in 2014-15.
Universities acknowledge the difficult choices the government has had to make in its budget to address the deficit, while enhancing Ontario's economic future.
We welcome the government's commitment to continued expansion of undergraduate and graduate spaces, and planned new investments to support our efforts to develop innovation and entrepreneurship of our students.
Ontario universities also welcome the government's commitment to invest in critical research infrastructure through the Ontario Research Fund.
A recent report by CIBC listed 25 occupations showing signs of a skills shortage over the next several years. Almost all of these occupations require a university degree.
The latest statistics show that 87.5 per cent of Ontario students are finding employment within six months of graduation, and 93.1 per cent are employed within two years.
Despite economic uncertainty, these are well-paying jobs. University students are earning an average of $42,403 six months after graduation, more than those with any other level of education.
Within two years of graduation, 82 per cent of graduates working full time say their work is related to the skills they gained in their university programs.
Universities are major contributors to the province's economic well-being by producing a highly skilled workforce and research that changes lives.
Ontario universities have made significant advancements in productivity by accommodating the enrolment of more students than ever, while operating with the lowest per student funding in Canada.
COU is a membership organization of 21 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. It works closely with the provincial and federal governments to shape public policies that help universities deliver high-quality programs for students, and the research and innovation that improves the social, cultural and economic well-being of Ontarians.