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Ontario’s colleges call for expansion of online learning


(July 18, 2013) – Expanding the availability of online college programs in Ontario will play an important part in addressing the skills mismatch, said Lorraine Carter, Senior Vice President Academic, St. Lawrence College.

“The province needs a forward-thinking online strategy to help more people acquire the advanced skills they need to succeed in their careers,” Carter said. “Ontario must become a world leader in online learning.”

Presidents representing the college sector meet today with Training, Colleges and Universities Minister Brad Duguid to discuss online learning in post-secondary education.

The colleges are calling for a significant expansion in the online programs and courses available through OntarioLearn, a consortium of Ontario’s colleges that registers more than 69,000 students each year and ranks as one of the largest providers of online course development and delivery in North America.

Other proposals to enhance student learning include expanding the availability of blended programs (combinations of in-class and online learning) at individual colleges and increasing access to the theoretical part of apprenticeship programs through e-trades models. Strengthening online learning in Ontario will help produce more people with the qualifications and skills needed to find meaningful work. For example, online learning can help people in the workforce who can’t attend classroom settings upgrade their education and training. It can also better support students who aren’t successful in traditional classroom settings, and help students seeking combinations of college and university education to complete their studies sooner.

Producing greater numbers of graduates with career-specific qualifications will help Ontario address the skills mismatch, which is the province’s most serious economic challenge. Even in this difficult economy where many people are out of work, there are employers who can’t fill available positions because they can’t find qualified people.

A recent report from the Conference Board of Canada found the skills mismatch is costing Ontario more than $24 billion a year in lost economic activity. The report also found the province is losing about $3.7 billion a year in potential tax revenues.

The skills mismatch is expected to get worse in the years ahead as innovations and new technologies continue to create demands for a more highly qualified workforce. That is why it is important for Ontario to pursue opportunities to help more people attain post-secondary education and training, particularly in career-focused programs.

“Online learning will play an important part in helping more people acquire the advanced skills and qualifications they need to find meaningful work,” Carter said. “We are eager to work with the government to make Ontario a world leader in online post-secondary learning.”


For more information:

Laura Tulchinsky

St. Lawrence College
613-544-5400 ext. 1291