partnering on jobs
and future skills
Promoting secure and meaningful employment in a time of rapid technological change.
"People that can learn quickly, that can pivot, that can problem solve, to me those are the core skills that our universities and other educational institutions need to be instilling in people. We can't say, 'this is the knowledge that you will need for the next 40 years.' But here's the skill set that you will need to continue to be successful in our rapidly changing environment."
Gordon Frost, partner, Mercer, a human resources consulting firm, at the
Ontario's Universities Roundtable on Innovations and the New Economy

The Issue

In today’s rapidly changing economy, employers are increasingly looking for workers with broad knowledge and adaptable skills, while students are looking to bridge their classroom learning to the workplace. Employers, students and universities must partner to ensure we are equipping students with the skills, knowledge and experience they need to thrive, and to help strengthen the talent pipeline that secures jobs, fosters innovation and drives Ontario’s economy.

The Background

  • Across the province, the world of work is being transformed and it’s hard to predict what jobs will exist in ten years – it is currently estimated that 42 percent of Ontario’s labour force is at risk of being affected by automation in the next 10 to 20 years. As the economy shifts, new technologies transform our industries and automation is poised to affect everything from law offices to the manufacturing sector, people are concerned about the quantity and quality of jobs in the future.
  • Employers are looking for workers with adaptable skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and teamwork. These skills help workers thrive in changing environments and are seen as critical to success in any business, both small and large.
  • A university education that offers rigorous academic programs and hands-on experiential learning has been proven to help develop the adaptable skills employers are looking for.
  • Eighty-six per cent of current students and recent grads in Canada said experiential learning led to an easier transition from school to a successful career.
  • Employers recognize the benefits of experiential learning, but groups such as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce feel administrative and operational requirements may limit further opportunities for partnership development, particularly with small businesses.
Experiential learning

Experiential learning is when students learn by doing, using their theoretical knowledge in practical, real-life, or work-related situations. There are many types of experiential learning activities designed to give students practical skills for their future career, including co-ops and internships, as well as projects in which students work on solutions to employer or industry challenges.

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What We Heard
Learn about what Ontarians had to say about jobs, skills, and the future of our economy.

Key Facts about Jobs and Future Skills

What Ontario Universities
Are Doing

Ontario’s universities are committed to nurturing the talented and successful citizens of tomorrow by giving students the high-quality skills, knowledge and experiences that will set them up for fulfilling lives and careers. Currently, these efforts have resulted in Ontario university graduates holding a 94 per cent employment rate two years after graduation, with 89 per cent of graduates holding jobs closely or somewhat related to their degree.

We know, however, that there is more work to be done, and we are continuously working with partners across all sectors on innovative methods to help our students thrive. These include:


Ensuring all students acquire the knowledge and adaptable skills, including the ability to communicate them to prospective employers, that helps ensure career success. Ontario’s universities are doing this, in part, by making sure every program explicitly outlines the knowledge and skills that students will develop by graduation.

Partnering with a wide range of employers – from major corporations to non-profits and tech start-ups – to help students apply their skills and knowledge through experiential learning opportunities such as co-ops, internships and community engagement projects.

How Government Can Help
  • Investing in experiential learning

    In order to ensure every student benefits from experiential learning by the time they graduate, the government will need to:

    • Provide sustained funding for a full range of experiential learning at universities.
    • Offer incentives to employers, particularly small businesses and not-for-profit organizations, to partner with universities to create more experiential learning opportunities for all students, including Aboriginal students, those with disabilities and other underrepresented students.
    • Develop, in collaboration with university, college and employer partners, an online province-wide information resource to encourage and support employers to provide experiential learning opportunities for students.
  • Supporting innovations in and out of the classroom

    Provide financial support for new technology and innovative teaching methods to help ensure all students can continue to enjoy an enriching educational experience while also developing the core skills they need for the future.

Partnering for a Better Future
Ensuring that the province has a highly skilled workforce and creating a strong talent pipeline for the jobs of today and tomorrow will position Ontario as an economic leader. It will help build a future where all Ontarians have the opportunity to use their skills and knowledge in jobs they are passionate about and where employers have access to talent that strengthens their businesses.
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Graduate Survey 2018

As the world continues to change at a rapid pace, the future remains bright for university graduates, concludes the latest Ontario government graduate survey.

University Works

University Works shows that Ontario university graduates have experienced the highest employment growth of any group of students over the last 10 years.

Preparing Students for Tomorrow's World

The 2014-16 Biennial Report showcases exciting initiatives at Ontario universities that support student success now and into the future.

read the report

In our report, you will find a comprehensive summary of what we heard from Ontarians and how Ontario's universities are working across all sectors to help students thrive, support our communities, and drive a growing, dynamic province.