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Education for a changing world

Ontario’s colleges have much to celebrate this year as we look back at 50 years of delivering career-focused education and training to meet the workforce needs of the communities we serve. Together, we have produced more than two million graduates, and supported millions more through continuing education and part-time studies.

Our graduates include leaders in business and the arts, engineering and technology, health sciences, community services and skilled trades. They are the entrepreneurs and innovators, technicians and specialists who help make businesses competitive and communities better places to live.

Increasingly, students and families from across our province and beyond are recognizing the benefits that our colleges and polytechnics deliver.

Enrolment is at record levels, with more than 220,000 full-time students and 300,000 part-time students now enrolled at Ontario colleges.

The explanation for our continued growth is simple: the education and training we provide delivers results in terms of both career success for graduates and the availability of highly skilled workers for industry.

As we look back with pride at all we have achieved as a sector, however, we must also look to the future and prepare to adapt in order to respond to the changing needs of our communities and our world. 

Advances in technology and automation are reshaping our economy and transforming the nature of work. Some studies indicate that more than 40 per cent of current jobs are at risk of being replaced or significantly reduced because of automation.

Unemployment and underemployment remain high among younger workers, and even those with established careers require ongoing training and upskilling to keep pace with changing workforce needs and expectations. At the same time, many business leaders cite the lack of  available workers with appropriate skill sets as a key impediment to growth.

The development of a highly skilled and adaptable workforce ready to address the challenges and make the most of the opportunities ahead is essential to our continued economic growth and competitiveness. 

At Conestoga, we are committed to delivering education and training programs that will create the talent required for local workforce needs and support business development as we provide opportunities for individuals from across our community to achieve their full potential and carve out successful careers.

Our region, one of the largest and fastest growing in the province, is renowned for its thriving innovation and startup culture. It draws strength from a broad and diverse economy with major industry clusters ranging from high tech to insurance, advanced manufacturing, food processing and agriculture.

The community is now poised to become an even more powerful driver of Canada’s economic growth, leading development in the Toronto-Waterloo Innovation Corridor.

But realizing our full potential as an economic powerhouse requires strategic focus on the development of the talent required to sustain innovation and growth. Through the initiatives outlined in the 2017-2020 Strategic Plan, Conestoga will create new capacity to serve the growing need for a skilled and adaptable workforce and help position our community for long-term growth and prosperity as we provide pathways to success and new opportunities for individuals across our community to build better lives for themselves and their families.

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