In Canada, there are overwhelming choices of earning a degree or career training. There are traditional universities, public colleges and career-focused private career colleges. Unfortunately, private colleges do not get much attention, although their contribution to Canada’s economy is quite vast. Every year, almost 100,000 students enroll in private career colleges in Ontario only. Every day, Ontarians rely on Private College graduates, whether a PC support technician, or medical office administrator, or data scientist. Still, many high school students who are researching their post-secondary options in Canada may not even know that private colleges exist.
Private Career Colleges are registered with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development. They need to comply with high regulatory requirements and government review with respect to operations, program approval, financial probity and programs.
There are fundamental differences between traditional colleges and private career colleges. In general, Universities teach theory, critical thinking and analysis in addition to some hands-on information. Private colleges focus exclusively on skills that are required for a specific vocation. Career college programs are shorter–usually less than one and up to two years.
The job market has changed, and today’s companies look for people who are already trained. Private career colleges provide significant hands-on training. Classes at private career colleges are much smaller in size compared to those of traditional colleges. Lower instructor to student ratio allows personalized care and more interaction. Private career colleges often hire professionals as instructors whereas at public colleges teachers may not have real-world experience in the subjects. The professionals have experience in their fields, they know the latest trends and provide a broader perspective, and they give the practical overview of the industry. Private career colleges offer career services such as resume writing, cover letter, interview skills, job placement, and professional networking. Therefore, Private Career Colleges are attractive destination for education to students.
Needless to say that majority of private career college students are international students. Canada has experienced a huge surge in its international student population in recent years. These students contribute over $15 billion to the economy each year, which supports 170,000 Canadian jobs. Canada must not underestimate the economic impact and nation-building potential of Private Career Colleges and the international students graduating from these colleges. Private career college sector produces graduates in hundreds of essential skilled fields at a minimal cost to taxpayers since they do not receive direct operating funds from the government. Government should promote the private career colleges more to the international students.
International students are vital to the economy, culture, diversity and community spirit. They have post-secondary education, they are young, and they are trained in skills demanded in Canada. Canada’s youth population is shrinking, so Canada needs to welcome bright minds not only in public colleges or universities, but also in career focused private colleges.