The Future of Work
July 30th, 2021 / By triOS College
triOS College is Ontario’s largest Private Career College, regulated under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005. We offer 37 programs across 5 faculties on 8 separate campuses around Southern Ontario. We are also partnered with Sault College and Mohawk College offering a high-quality, unique educational experience for international students.
Our mission statement at triOS College is to “help students become job-ready graduates”, and we take that mission very seriously.
Over the course of the last ten years, we have seen dynamic growth in our college, and we have also seen the needs of students have changed. We know most people will work in more than one job over the course of their career. The job market is changing and how we train students’ needs to change along with it.
The pandemic has accelerated some of those changes and highlighted the fact that our students are resilient and prepared to train on their terms in ways that suit their lifestyles. Any training program offered by the province needs to recognize that fundamental shift and put student choice at the heart of any program design. As the Ontario economy begins to recover, triOS College is well-positioned to help the province provide a world-class workforce that is trained and job-ready.
The pandemic brought to light the fact that, amongst other things, there was a dramatic shortage of Personal Support Workers (PSWs) trained and working in Ontario’s Long-Term Care Homes. Once that was identified as a problem, the province moved quickly and developed the Challenge Fund to train PSWs and get them working quickly in the system. As part of the Challenge Fund, PCCs were given an allocation of 4000 PSWs to train. This was on top of the 8000 PSW’s that Ontario’s Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology were allocated.
At triOS we are currently training 800 PSWs under that program. It is designed to get them trained and working in our LTC homes as quickly as possible and we believe the program is showing great success. Currently, there are other human resources shortages in areas like Early Childhood Education 1 And Registered Practical Nursing that also need to resolve as quickly as possible to support the economic recovery. For example, the childcare sector knows there is a shortage of ECEs to support the number of childcare spaces we have currently in Ontario. Recently the Government of Canada announced an intention to spend $8 billion supporting a national childcare program. For the economy to meet its full potential there will need to be an increase in the number of childcare spaces across the province, however, under the current regime, it will take three years before the first qualified ECEs are graduated and able to join the workforce.
Ontario should consider Challenge Fund-like programs for areas such as ECE. Like the PSW Challenge Fund, these programs can be time-limited, set very specific goals on how many need to be trained and employed at the end of the program. The Provincial Government, in conjunction with a small group of pilot PCC institutions, will ensure the training requirements maintain quality while delivering to a compressed timeline. In order to facilitate PCC’s involvement, the province will need to level the playing field and give PCC’s the ability to train ECE’s. PCC’s in Ontario do not currently have the ability to do the training but they do in several other provinces.
Speed of training is going to be crucial for the future of work.
Strengthening Ontario’s Competitive Position
One of the building blocks needed to improve our competitive position is a comprehensive skills training environment.
The Government’s current suite of training and skills development programs needs to be refocused in a way that makes them flexible enough to meet changing needs as they happen. Programs must be nimbler. At triOS, our students come to us as older students (our average student age is 33) looking to change careers. They want to get the educational credentials they need in as little time as possible so they can quickly rejoin the workforce.
Our properly regulated PCC sector has the flexibility to offer high-quality career-specific training that is second to none and do so much faster than community colleges.
We need provincial programming to recognize and level the playing field between community colleges and PCCs. PCCs, like triOS, are well-positioned to play a leading role in retraining our workforce.
Supporting Workers Through Technology
When the pandemic struck, triOS used technology to move thousands of our learners online seamlessly over one weekend. We realize that going forward technology is going to be more important than ever in how learners are trained. When it comes to the types of training requested by learners, the pandemic has shown us that we need to be flexible and allow the student to choose how they want to learn. Flexibility allows students to develop individual learning plans that best meet their needs and offer them the high-quality training they need for the post-COVID economy. This could be done fairly quickly but requires eliminating red tape at the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. For example, triOS currently have four proposals before the Ministry to allow us to offer our students a choice of: in-class learning, hybrid of in-class and remote learning, an all-remote learning environment or an Online environment. That requires four different submissions that need to be adjudicated separately. With technology, there is no reason why we should have to submit four times, we should be able to submit once.
Constant workforce training and development will be a key feature in the future of work. triOS believes that flexibility in how that training is accessed will be crucial and that the Provincial Government needs to fully utilize the experience and knowledge of the entire post-secondary community in delivering training programs. The province needs to develop a regulatory system that ensures high-quality training for learners but will be able to keep up with the industry and not hold them back as they adapt to a quickly evolving job market.
Consideration needs to be given to specialized programming designed to fill immediate job gaps quickly, and the Province Ontario should use the Challenge Fund experience as a potential model for other urgent human resources needs.