Helping students picture the future's most in-demand jobs

Pupils conducting a scientific experiment in a physics lesson at the Heinrich-Mann-School in the Neukoelln district of Berlin, Germany
© Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Originally appeared on the Huffington Post in September 2015

More than ever, high school students and their parents are looking for good information about the career options available to young people today -- and the education needed to pursue those careers.

Ontario's colleges continue to address this challenge.

This week, Colleges Ontario launched the annual Picture Your Future tour, which is visiting high schools and College Information Program events throughout the province.

Picture Your Future is a fun and interactive event that uses green-screen technology to allow students to have their pictures taken in career settings such as firefighting, broadcasting, game development, business, nursing, aviation and more.

The event promotes the numerous and varied career opportunities available to young people through a college education. Students are provided with information on the more than 600 programs available at Ontario's 24 colleges and are encouraged to obtain more information online.

Picture Your Future is one part of a broader, longer-term effort by Ontario's colleges to help students learn about the full range of post-secondary programs available today and to identify the post-secondary path that best suits their strengths and career goals.

For many students, college programs -- in some cases, in combination with university -- provide the best pathway to career success. In fact, 84 per cent of college graduates find employment within six months of graduation.

In this new innovation economy, the career landscape is rapidly changing. Ten years ago, many of the most interesting jobs available did not yet exist.

Working with businesses and industries, college programs are updated each year to ensure they continue to be strongly aligned with the new economy.

The colleges' advisory panels of business experts have helped colleges design programs that are producing new entrepreneurial thinkers with a keen sense of current practices in a range of fields. In the last three years, colleges have developed many new programs throughout the province that respond to new labour-market demands in their communities. Those programs include analytics for business decision-making, mobile marketing, small business ventures and the art and business of animation.

The bigger, long-term challenge for educators, governments and businesses is to gather better information about the labour market and where the jobs of the future will be created.

I applaud the new program recently launched by the Ontario government, Experience Ontario. This two-year, $20-million pilot program will provide work experience, career coaching and mentorship to approximately 600 students across the province.

There is a great deal more that needs to be done to identify the careers of the future and ensure that students and parents have the information they need about how to plan for those careers.

This is especially important as the demand for a more professionally trained and highly skilled workforce continues to grow. It is more essential than ever to identify the future opportunities for young people and ensure students and parents know what qualifications are required to pursue those careers.

Colleges are committed to working with governments, businesses and community leaders to strengthen the resources and information available about the careers of tomorrow.

Linda Franklin

Linda Franklin is the past president and CEO of Colleges Ontario, the advocacy association for Ontario’s 24 colleges.