Education. Once a powerful force feeding Ontario’s public and private sectors with a work force that attracted businesses from all over the world has recently gone off the rails. The current Provincial education strategy is creating a work force that businesses in all sectors of the economy are struggling to make use of.At the root of a successful society is access to the highest level of education possible. The current Liberal government has rightfully focussed on giving our students the best education possible. The problem is that what they have managed to provide is moderate success at an extremely high price.
Ontario is committed to fully roll out the all day kindergarten program that is projected to add $1.5 billion annually to the provincial budget. The problem with expenditures in education is that the results cannot be challenged in the short-term as they are hypothetical. We do not see the results of such investments until at least a few years later.
“Ontario has the most educated skilled workforce in the world. It is multilingual and multicultural. The best way for it to compete is on quality, investment in new technology and better use of its labour force”, says David Wolfe, a University of Toronto professor who specializes in manufacturing. If this is indeed the case then why are there so many people looking for work and why are there so many businesses looking for workers? The numbers don’t add up.
In a recent column in the National Post, Matt Gurney reports: “A report by the Toronto Region Research Alliance finds that many students in Canadian universities go into their post-secondary education with hopes of a career in medicine or business. But in the Toronto region, there are only limited spots available for those jobs — and way too many graduates coming out every year, looking for work. For example, the report estimates that in 2012, there will be 6,531 new jobs available for graduates with business and commerce degrees, to be fought over by almost 16,000 graduates. It’s even more lopsided for medicine — barely 3,000 new jobs are forecasted for the current year. Almost 11,000 students will graduate with relevant degrees. Graduates from teacher’s colleges are also having a hell of a hard time finding any open positions. And keep in mind, estimates for the average level of education debt held by Canadian students upon graduation hover around $27,000 each. Meanwhile, Toronto will need almost 10,000 IT specialists this year. Less than 4,00 will graduate.”
It is clear that the provincial education system is not providing the skills that are in demand by the business community. High unemployment while businesses can’t find suitable employees? The entire education system must be adjusted so that businesses get workers whose skills match the needs. The current apprenticeship program also needs a major overhaul as many potential apprentices cannot find placements while many small businesses that could hire and develop apprentices are not permitted to do so due to ridiculous journeyperson-to-apprentice ratios.
The education sector must listen to the business community and better prepare students for their future. To be able to do this the educators need much better direction from the Province. Politicians in turn must understand the business climate and the strengths and weaknesses of its business community. This is perhaps the greatest failure of the three major Ontario political parties, each of which has their own ingrained ideologies.
New fresh political leadership is required that is open-minded without political blinders, like The Parkdale Party.