CAREER COLLEGES: SMALL, INTENSE AND FLEXIBLE

by Laura Bailey


originally published in the September, 2010 Issue

This is a busy time for university and college graduates; waiting for final marks, graduation ceremonies, job hunting and job interviews. But for the graduates of Ontario’s over 600 registered private career colleges, it’s just another day at work.


The most recent Statistics Canada Labour Survey showed the top five sectors hiring now require highly skilled employees. Sectors such as business, health care and construction are in demand, and graduates of registered private career colleges are filling the need.


With regular intake, graduation ceremonies take place more often, and more than 46,000 Ontarians are trained at registered private career colleges annually.


Private career college students benefit from small class sizes, intensive training and flexible learning. With the majority of programs ranging from 12 weeks to 12 months – each month a new set of highly skilled people enter Ontario’s workforce. Registered private career colleges offer career specific training to students who are looking for a career change, upgrading their skills or re-entering the workforce.


“Ontario’s private career colleges are well-positioned to help with a full slate of offerings for students -whether they are fresh out of high school or returning to the classroom after years in the work place,” said Paul Kitchin, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Career Colleges.


At career colleges, students are not just a number. They study in small classes where the instructor knows everyone’s name. These instructors are professionals from the field with years of relevant work experience. Compared to class sizes as public institutions, students at career colleges often benefit from one-on-one time with instructors, and full access to the equipment needed to be successful in their training.


Career colleges offer intensive schedules focusing on what students need to know to excel in their chosen field. Extra hours of instruction each week mean the overall duration of a program is shorter compared to public colleges; this provides grads with much earlier access to the labour force. Every subject taught in a program is relevant to the certificate or diploma, and, more importantly, the job field.


“Career colleges have long been hailed for their intensive, hands-on training,” said Kitchin. “We provide focused education that instills the practical skills necessary for success in the work place.”


With start dates offered throughout the year at many private career colleges, students can begin a program sooner. Unlike other options, career colleges offer flexible learning schedules. Morning, afternoon and evening schedules are available for some programs, which easily accommodates family and work life.


“With exciting programs in a wide range of fields like health care, business, information technology, the trades, social services, law, esthetics and the arts,” said Kitchin. “There is something for everyone.”


A study of over 4,000 career college students in 2009 found that 98 per cent graduated from their chosen programs. The study, which was jointly funded by the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada also confirmed that many career college grads achieved the employment outcome they were expecting.


The study indicated that six to nine months after graduation, 79 per cent of private career college grads reported they were working full time (60 per cent) or part time (19 per cent.) The majority of the graduates noted their employment was closely related to their field of study.


Although the needs of each student vary, researching post-secondary options including private career colleges is an important first step.


“Ontario’s career colleges offer the necessary tools to kick start your future with diverse options for post-secondary education,” said Kitchin.


“Investing in your education is an important decision,” he continued. “It is worth taking the time to choose wisely.”


Private career colleges have been training Ontarians for over 140 years and predate community colleges by a century. Career colleges offer a wide range of programs in business, health, technology and trades.


Students looking to verify that the career college is a member of the Ontario Association of Career Colleges and in good standing can visit www.oacc.ca or call 519-752-2124.


Laura Bailey is the Media Communications Coordinator for the Ontario Association of Career Colleges.

Toronto, Canada