CIBC re­port warns of grad­u­ates’ skills gap

Montreal Gazette - - FP MONTREAL -

A CIBC eco­nom­ics re­port warns that Canada’s post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions need to change their ways to be­gin pro­duc­ing enough grad­u­ates with the right skills to drive fu­ture eco­nomic growth.

Au­thors Ben­jamin Tal and Royce Men­des say a new CIBC poll shows stu­dents are be­com­ing more prag­matic in choos­ing ca­reers where their skills will be needed. The sur­vey shows there has been about a 30-per-cent rise in univer­sity en­rol­ments in high-pay­ing ca­reers such as busi­ness and the so-called STEM fields (sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing and math) in the decade lead­ing up to 2015.

But it adds those pro­grams have seen fee in­fla­tion that’s al­most dou­ble the pace of other cour­ses, leav­ing stu­dents with more debt as they en­ter the work­force.

The CIBC study also sug­gests that Canada’s post-sec­ondary sys­tem isn’t flex­i­ble enough and forces stu­dents to choose be­tween univer­sity and col­lege. It points out that while On­tario of­fers 45 joint col­lege/univer­sity pro­grams, only eight per cent of Cana­dian stu­dents are en­rolled in such a dual sys­tem. “The cost of that mis­match (be­tween ed­u­ca­tion avail­abil­ity and need) is al­ready vis­i­ble in both dis­ap­point­ing youth em­ploy­ment con­di­tions and the ris­ing share of Cana­di­ans earn­ing be­low av­er­age in­comes,” the re­port con­cludes. “Those vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties will be fully ex­posed in the next eco­nomic down­turn. The time to act is now.”

CIBC bases its study on an on­line poll con­ducted be­tween July 27 and Aug. 2 among 1,506 full- or part-time stu­dents in Canada.

The Mar­ket­ing Re­search and In­tel­li­gence As­so­ci­a­tion says on­line sur­veys can­not be as­signed a mar­gin of er­ror be­cause they do not ran­domly sam­ple the pop­u­la­tion.

JULIE OLIVER/FILES

A new CIBC poll shows stu­dents are choos­ing ca­reers where their skills will be needed but are hin­dered by soar­ing fees.

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