College enrolment rising - faster than expected

(Toronto, Oct. 16, 2008) - First-year enrolment at Ontario's colleges continued its strong upward trend this year with a 5.6 per cent increase over last year, according to figures released today by Colleges Ontario.

September enrolment at Ontario's 24 public colleges consisted of 95,805 students in the first year of studies. This 5.6 per cent increase builds on last year's first-year enrolment increase of 5.5 per cent.

"Students clearly recognize the tremendous value of the education and training provided at Ontario's public colleges," said Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. "Our business and industry leaders are urgently calling for innovative, technically skilled workers and today's students are listening: they want to graduate to good jobs."

Even in the current economy, college graduates are in demand as employers look for qualified people to fill vacant positions. This demand will intensify in the years ahead as the baby boomers retire. In Ontario, the Conference Board of Canada estimates the province will face a shortage of more than 360,000 skilled employees by 2025.

More than 90 per cent of college graduates find work within six months and 93 per cent of employers are satisfied or very satisfied with the graduates they have hired in the past six months. A recent survey found that businesses facing labour shortages required the skills of college graduates over university graduates by a six-to-one ratio.

While robust enrolment is a good news story for students and the economy, increased enrolment also adds cost pressures to colleges in working to maintain or improve programs and facilities. Ontario is still ranked 10th of the 10 provinces in per-student revenues for college education and Ontario colleges receive considerably less funding per student than both the secondary school system and universities.

The colleges have been promoting the value of college education and training and are continuing with their systemwide marketing campaign to raise awareness about societal biases that can lead parents to direct their children away from colleges, in spite of the opportunities for rewarding careers. The campaign, which began this year with ads about fictional "Obay" pills that claimed to push parents' wishes on their kids, drew widespread media and online interest.
Franklin said growing numbers of people are becoming aware of the excellent career opportunities available to college graduates.
"Our programs are taught by experienced faculty with strong academic credentials," Franklin said. "We prepare people for long-term success."

-30-

For more information:

Sally Ritchie
Senior Communications Officer
Colleges Ontario
(416) 596-0744, ext. 242