Creating a highly skilled workforce for the future

Ontario’s Ministry of Education shares why a highly skilled workforce is vital for progression and how this is being encouraged in the province

Building the Workforce of Tomorrow: A Shared Responsibility is the final report of the Premier of Ontario’s Highly Skilled Workforce (HSW) Expert Panel. The report contains the Panel’s final recommendations on developing a strategy to help the province’s current and future workforce gain the skills needed to adapt to the demands of a changing economy.

The Province has since developed a Highly Skilled Workforce Strategy based on these recommendations. The Strategy includes specific direction for both the kindergarten to Grade 12 and postsecondary education systems in Ontario to support these changes.

What strategies are in place to ensure this happens and students are supported?

We’ve already made significant progress since the HSW Strategy was released.  Moving forward, a new emphasis on global competencies and experiential learning will permeate the education system at all levels.

In addition to the HSW Strategy noted above, Ontario launched Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario in 2014. It focuses on what Ontarians view as essential outcomes for children and students through 4 goals: achieving excellence, ensuring equity, promoting well-being, and enhancing public confidence.

All of these elements are also present in Building the Workforce of Tomorrow: A Shared Responsibility, and have been carefully integrated into the implementation work of the HSW strategy. Similarly, the HSW strategy involves and builds on the existing work of a number of Ontario ministries, including the Ministries of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Education, Citizenship and Immigration, Economic Development and Growth, Infrastructure, and Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

How important is it for education to prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow?

Our government is working hard to give Ontario students the chance to develop strengths, interests and goals during their school experience – through programmes, such as Cooperative Education, Dual Credits, and Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM). Starting in September, more than 50,000 students will be enrolled in almost 1,900 SHSM programmes. This represents 2,000 additional students and 108 new programmes for the 2017- 18 school year. This is an innovative, high demand programme that lets high school students focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests while meeting the requirements of their high school diploma.

We are looking at ways we can expand experiential learning to provide all students from kindergarten to grade 12 with a broader range of learning opportunities outside of school that are connected to the community. These opportunities and the province’s education and career/life planning programme are outlined in Creating Pathways to Success Kindergarten- Grade 12, which helps students to successfully make the transition to their post secondary destination.

Can you explain a bit about the career studies pilots and how they will enable this process?

Reviewing the guidance and career education curriculum on a priority basis is a key recommendation of the HSW report to ensure that it introduces students to a variety of learning pathways and opportunities.

The career studies pilots are in progress now until the end of this school year, as a part of the current grade 10 career studies course. The educators participating were provided with topics for the 4 modules on digital literacy, career life planning, financial literacy and entrepreneurship, which they will customise for delivery with their students. Once the projects are complete, teachers will provide their final observations, about the impact of the project, the effect on student achievement and engagement, and artefacts of student learning. As these pilots are currently underway, it’s important for us to review the data collected once they are completed to inform next steps.

This past November, Minister Hunter announced that financial literacy will be integrated into the careers studies course. Since 2011, we have invested more than $3 million in financial literacy resources and professional learning opportunities for teachers to enhance financial literacy among Ontario’s elementary and secondary students.

How will these be monitored?

Ontario’s Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario includes a plan to monitor and evaluate our progress. Each of the renewed goals is accompanied by a “plan of action,” as well as measures by which we will assess our progress toward each goal.

A variety of data and results from both internal and external sources contribute to knowing and understanding how our students are progressing towards the goals we’ve set out. Standardised tests, and assessments through EQAO, TIMMS and PISA provide a variety of evidence that inform our next steps. All of these contribute data that tell us how our students are doing in relation to the goals we’ve set out.

For instance, we launched our Renewed Math Strategy in the fall of 2016, based on solid evidence pointing to the need to improve student achievement in math. We are evaluating this strategy, as well as the results, to ensure that it is having the desired outcomes for student achievement.

Ontario Ministry of Education

www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/

@ONeducation

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