In today’s job market, a credential is simply not enough without skills training

A post-secondary credential was once the golden ticket into the labour market. However, their marketability is declining as degrees and diplomas become increasingly commonplace. In fact, in 2019, 73 per cent of Canadian youth had a post-secondary qualification. In a job market where the majority of young adults hold some type of higher education, how are new graduates supposed to stand out?

Report after report points to having in-demand skills as the key to employability. More than two-thirds of Canadian businesses are struggling to find skilled talent, and 86 per cent of Canadians say they are not prepared to meet the digital skills requirements of the future.

Higher education providers must put graduate employability at the centre of their mandates, which in this era, requires more than offering a range of credentials. To ensure students quickly find jobs after graduation, post-secondary institutions must incorporate skills training into their programs.

Polytechnics understand the importance of skills development and have built a differentiated educational model centred around hands-on, experiential learning.

Students receive hands-on training from industry professionals in labs and workshops equipped the tools and technology found in real work environments. Saskatchewan Polytechnic trains students on flight simulators and CNC machines before they enter their respective careers while students in George Brown College’s Dental Technician program get to practice their skills on under-served communities in need of dental services.

Developing career-ready graduates doesn’t stop in the classroom. 76% of degree programs offered at Polytechnics Canada’s 13 member institutions include a work-integrated learning component. These opportunities are integral for giving new graduates a competitive advantage in the job market. For example, Humber College has launched two new global work-integrated projects which will enable hundreds of students to develop career-boosting skills in sustainability, biculturalism and equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

Because of the applied nature of polytechnic education, they are also one of the nation’s top providers of mid-career retraining. As workers transition between jobs and careers, they require different competencies and knowledge. Sometimes this requires upgrading a pre-existing skill, Algonquin College recently received $1.5 million to retrain and upskill workers in the manufacturing sector. In other instances, learning an entirely different skillset is needed; the British Columbia Institute of Technology, in cooperation with Siemens Canada, Denesoline Corporation and the Digital Supercluster, is training members of the Łutsël K’é Dene community to operate, maintain, and upkeep clean energy microgrid systems.

To competitively enter the labour market, students need more than a credential. 90% of employers who hired a polytechnic graduate point to their practical experience as a key benefit and 88% of polytechnic students are employed within six months of graduation. This data clearly illustrates that industry demands graduates who have the technical skills to be able to hit the ground running, and higher education institutions, as the providers of our country’s talent pipeline, need to act on this.

For more information, check out our Polytechnics and the Future of Work publication. Interested in learning more about Jooble? Visit their website.

About the Authors

Nikita Sukharev, Writer, Jooble

Alexandra Hornby, Communications Coordinator, Polytechnics Canada