February 8, 2023


Conestoga College and the University of Guelph pulled ahead, while both Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo fell behind in terms of enrolment numbers.

For the first time in 15 years, fewer graduates from high schools are going on to post-secondary education.

University enrolment fell 2.9 per cent, while college enrolment declined 3.5 per cent, according to a Sept. 22 story in the Toronto Star.

The majority of the decrease is being blamed on fewer students taking programs in the schools that focus on the arts.

According to a Sept. 25 article in the Waterloo Region Record, “there’s a lot of concern from students and parents around post-university jobs and post-university career opportunities with an arts degree,” said Deborah MacLatchy, Laurier’s vice-president academic.

And they should be concerned. The Globe and Mail reported in a Sept. 4 article that, since 2006, unemployment for all university graduates has risen and their ability to find work related to their fields has dropped.

At Conestoga, there is good news. We have attracted a record number of students this year, with an overall increase in first-year enrolment of 3.7 per cent.

Alan Vaughan, Conestoga’s vice-president of enrolment management and international education, said in the Record article that Conestoga makes sure program criteria reflect the labour market, which, in turn, has helped increase student enrolment.

According to a Feb. 28, 2013 article in The Globe and Mail, “Canada is looking at a shortage of one million tradespeople by 2020.” This is an area that Conestoga excels in, so it is well positioned for the future.

Conestoga also offers a wide variety of career-focused programs and many degree programs for students to choose from. Many of the programs include work placements, which provide students with the necessary skills and hands-on experience needed to obtain a job in their career sector upon graduation.

High school students should be encouraged to attend colleges, and should look seriously at the skilled trades, since this is the field that is hiring. And colleges should continue to engage their students as they get hands-on experience which prepares them for the real world.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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