CIBC re­port warns of ed­u­ca­tion/skills gap

Urges post-sec­ondary changes, says stu­dents go­ing where money is — not where need is

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS -

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 on­line poll shows Cana­dian stu­dents are be­com­ing more prag­matic in choos­ing ca­reers where their skills will be needed.

The sur­vey shows 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 greater lev­els of debt en­ter­ing the work­force.

The CIBC study also sug­gests Canada’s post-sec­ondary sys­tem isn’t flex­i­ble enough and forces stu­dents to choose be­tween univer­sity and col­lege. On­tario of­fers 45 joint col­lege/univer­sity pro­grams, but 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.”

The study is based on an on­line poll July 27 to Aug. 2 with 1,506 full- or part-time stu­dents. The polling in­dus­try’s pro­fes­sional body, the Mar­ket­ing Re­search and In­tel­li­gence As­so­ci­a­tion, says on­line sur­veys can’t be as­signed a mar­gin of er­ror be­cause they don’t ran­domly sam­ple pop­u­la­tion.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO

A CIBC study sug­gests the post-sec­ondary sys­tem isn’t flex­i­ble enough.

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