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Study to Explore Why Young People Don

November 28, 2007

Ontario’s 24 community colleges have commissioned the most comprehensive research study ever conducted into the attitudes of high school students who won’t be pursuing any post-secondary education after high school.

“This study will help us understand why so many young people are opting out of post-secondary education and not fulfilling their potential,” said Loyalist President Maureen Piercy. “At a time when 70 per cent of all new jobs require a college or university credential, one-third of Ontarians between 25 to 34 have only a high school diploma or less. The study will help Ontario determine what to do to meet this challenge.”

This study, commissioned by Colleges Ontario, is being conducted by Alan King and Wendy Warren of Queen’s University’s Social Program Evaluation Group (SPEG). The initial phase of the $250,000 study is scheduled to be completed next fall.

The study will seek to determine the characteristics of secondary school students who do not continue to post-secondary education.  Colleges Ontario’s funding partners for the study include the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Colleges Ontario will use the results to develop strategies to increase post-secondary graduation rates in the province.

President Piercy said it is essential that greater numbers of people attain post-secondary education and training. Currently, there is a need to provide more training and retraining to people who have lost their jobs in the changing economy, particularly in sectors such as manufacturing and forestry.

Predictions also place our province on the verge of a major skills shortage. If current trends continue, Ontario will have a shortage of 360,000 skilled employees by 2025, affecting many sectors of the province’s economy.

“It will be essential that every person has the education and training to make a meaningful contribution in the workplace,” said President Piercy. “Increasing post-secondary education participation rates is vital to Ontario’s economic success and must be a top priority. This research will help us develop strategies to produce more highly skilled workers and create opportunities for every Ontarian to succeed.”

Alan King and Wendy Warren are leading experts in Ontario on issues involving high school students and their perceptions of post-secondary education. Their past work has included an extensive study of the double cohort in Ontario following the restructuring of the province’s secondary school curriculum.

Colleges Ontario is the voice of Ontario’s 24 colleges of applied arts and technology. Ontario colleges serve about 200 communities throughout the province, delivering a wide range of career-focused education and training programs to more than 200,000 full-time and 250,000 part-time students. 

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Media contact:   Dianne Spencer, College Advancement & External Relations, Loyalist College, (613) 969-1913, ext. 2235 or