Higher Education Marketing

Canadian Career Colleges on the Rise

Date posted: January 31, 2012

Whether it is a result of a slumping job market or the lingering effect of the global economic downturn, Canadian career and community colleges are seeing a rise in applications from people with university degrees. Studies are now showing that these post-secondary students may account for anywhere from a fifth to a third of the enrollment at these schools. "The colleges have become kind of a finishing school for university graduates," former Seneca College president Rick Miner said. "All of our colleges work very closely with business and industry so we know what's needed and how many jobs". During Milner's tenure, enrollment of postgraduate students continued to increase, making up 15% of the full-time student population, and 50% of the part-timers. There may be two factors playing into this: more than a third of immigrants to Canada—and more than half of those who have arrived since 2002—already have postsecondary degrees; and a growing notion that a university bachelor's degree may not be as helpful finding work as practical, hands-on skills training at a college. "A university degree used to be an entree to a job. [Employers] didn't care if your degree was in archaeology—they'd take you into the accounting firm and train you for the job," Ann Buller, president of Centennial College told The Chronicle of Higher Education. "Their university degree means they have a good, solid education but not necessarily something that translates easily into a job. We can help them discover their passion." What's interesting will be to see how these schools change to reflect this new student body. Students with post-secondary degrees may be interested in more programs and courses that are specific to training skills that will be found in the workplace. They may also be used to a higher level of services and facilities. It's entirely possible, then, that we'll start seeing schools changing their course offerings if this trend persists (and as it has continued for close to a decade now, we think it's safe to say that it will). It's also very likely that Canadian career colleges will start changing the way they position themselves with regards to international leads and post-secondary prospective students. We've discussed the use of social media to attract foreign students. It seems likely that these techniques and more will be increasingly used to target university graduates. What do you think is accounting for this rise in post-secondary students at career colleges? What will these schools have to do to continue attracting these students?