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Connecting to employers

Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013

An average of over 90% of Canadian college graduates have been able to obtain employment within six months of graduating and 95% of employers are satisfied with the quality of the graduates who they hire

Canadian colleges and institutes carry out their mandate to make the curriculum responsive to employers in the community in many ways. First, employers are involved at every level of the institution, from the board to each programme area, thus, stimulating and even requiring college faculty and management to respond to the rapidly evolving labour market and societal needs and challenges. Employer programme advisory committees are created for every single programme. These committees meet twice a year to provide feedback to the programme director and faculty on such matters as what changes should be made to the curriculum and how their latest graduates are doing on the job.

Second, provincial and territorial governments engage employer and employee associations to advise them on curriculum standards and priorities. At the national level, Employment and Social Development Canada (formerly called Human Resources and Skills Development Canada) has supported the creation of national human resource sector councils that carry out the core tasks of predicting the human resources (HR) needs for their industry or service, marketing their sector to college graduates and the general public, sometimes accrediting programmes to the norms of the industry, and informing government of HR decisions and policies.

Competency-based Curriculum
Third, Canadian colleges has developed a competency-based curriculum methodology or DACUM (Developing A CurriculUM). This methodology has required faculty to develop curriculum not on what they thought learners should acquire, but by carrying out a rigorous analysis of the competencies required for each occupation, as described by those who are doing the job. This DACUM methodology would soon be adopted later by many countries around the world. An occupational analysis would then be transformed into learning outcomes and pedagogy that would enable acquisition of the required competencies. A competency is defined not only as the technical skill required, but also as the relevant knowledge and attitudes that must accompany those skills for them to be effective in the modern workplace. Research was carried out with Federal government support to identify and map out the required essential, employability or soft generic skills, depending on which nomenclature is preferred. 

The most salient result of this close and regular connection to employers is that an average of over 90% of Canadian college graduates have been able to obtain employment within six months of graduating and 95% of employers are satisfied with the quality of the graduates who they hire. These numbers are gathered independently by firms hired by the relevant ministries, and not the colleges themselves. The rate will of course vary by region and according to the state of the economy, but such an average is a tremendous achievement in an ever-changing, globally-influenced economy and society.

Some provincial ministries have tied funding for colleges to key performance indicators (KPIs) of employment, employer satisfaction and graduate satisfaction rates. They reward institutions that have higher attainments with increased budget allocations ranging from one to four percent of their previous year’s budget. Colleges are thus assessed and rewarded by key results – including employment outcomes – instead of using only process indicators such as how many students enter and exit the institution. The results per programme and institution are published annually, informing student choices and stimulating institutional improvements.
 (Source: Canadian High Commission)
 

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