Welcome to my first blog post as the new president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. I’m thrilled to be in this new role as I truly believe in the transformational power of public post-secondary education. Public colleges play such a key role in the vitality of our province and helping people find the right path to rewarding and fulfilling careers.
One of my first priorities is visiting our colleges to learn more about the strengths of our programs and the challenges we need to address.
So far, my visits have included trips to Centennial College in Scarborough, the Durham College campuses in Oshawa and Whitby and Sheridan College’s campus in Oakville.
I’ve seen some tremendous examples of how our programs truly prepare students for many of the most sought-after careers in this increasingly digitized world.
Take the AI and cybersecurity programs at Centennial.
The college has a post-graduate certificate in AI business applications that teaches students how to build and implement AI systems in a business context.
The program also covers some of the ethical issues in AI – something that’s clearly becoming increasingly important, as we’ve seen with the growing concerns about ChatGPT.
These types of college programs deliver true value for money. For example, the average annual tuition for an advanced diploma program in AI software is just over $4,000, while PayScale says the average base salary for someone trained in AI is $106,000.
I’ve also seen great examples of our colleges’ leading role in the energy transition.
A key priority, of course, will be the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) sector.
Durham College has been a pioneer in this area. For example, the college recently welcomed more than 540 participants to its new, leading-edge EV lab for an exclusive two-day training event hosted by General Motors. The event trained first responders, students in the firefighting program and others on how to respond to emergency situations that involve EVs.
This was a unique training opportunity, hosted in the college’s brand-new EV Lab – a state-of-the-art facility uniquely designed in a multi-purpose, modular format that allows students to gain hands-on experience with EVs and their electrical and computer programming components.
The lab features advanced equipment that enables more in-depth training on the battery aspect of EVs – including their handling, testing and rebuilding – an area the college anticipates will see a growth in industry demands as the number of EVs increase.
My next visit was to Sheridan’s campus in Oakville.
Sheridan is internationally renowned for its animation programs. Ontario Creates estimates that Ontario’s film and television industry contributed a record-breaking $3.15 billion to Ontario’s economy in 2022, creating 45,891 high-value full-time equivalent direct and spin-off jobs for Ontarians. With such high demand for talent across all production areas including virtual production, visual effects, digital animation, special effects and game design, to name a few, Sheridan is where this talent gets its training.
Sheridan launched its first animation class in 1968 and by 1984 had started its successful run of Sheridan graduates winning Oscars at the Academy Awards.
Sheridan grad Domee Shi is one of the most recent success stories. She won the Oscar four years ago for the best animated short film and was nominated in 2022 for best animated feature for her film, Turning Red, which was set in Toronto.
I look forward to learning more in the coming weeks and will share more of these great stories in my upcoming posts.
If you’re not already following me on Twitter, you can find me @CollegesONCEO – I'll be announcing new blog posts in real time there. You can also follow Colleges Ontario’s official Twitter account, @CollegesOntario, for more college highlights, stories and stats. And let me know what you’d like to hear about!