The Big Picture: The Future of the Labour Market with Ken Steele (August 2015)
The Ontario Differentiation Policy Framework for Post-Secondary Education (announced in November 2013) was established in response to the following major challenges facing Ontario:
The overall purpose of the Differentiation Framework is to improve Ontario's PSE system and allocate funds more efficiently by helping institutions build on their individual strengths and reduce redundancies in academic programming (to limit institutions from offering the same programs and competing for the same pond of shrinking fish). Provincial priorities highlighted in the framework include:
In order to ensure PSE institutions follow through with the Differentiation Framework, Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMA's) were established with the 45 publicly funded colleges and universities in Ontario.
Each SMA agreement highlight's the institution's key area of differentiation, differentiation goals, required metrics that show progress towards these goals (ex. Brock's Key area of differentiation is on work-based learning, service learning and small group learning)
Any request made by an institution to MTCU (i.e. new program approvals), will be decided on based on the goals identified in the institution's SMA agreement.
It's also important to realize that MTCU's new PSE funding model (to be announced in 2017) will no longer be enrollment driven, but rather, it will be tied to the performance metrics identified in each institution's SMA. So public funding for PSE institutions could possibly be held back if institutions are not able to show progress towards their differentiation framework goals.
Problem Statement: University programs are typically not designed with particular jobs/careers in mind. Universities programs are usually designed to encourage collaboration and critical thinking. However, Ontario's new Differentiation Framework makes economic development a priority for all post-secondary institutions. This research aims to takes a closer look at Brock's academic faculties to gauge their responsiveness to current labour market and employer needs.
Findings in the literature so far:
Research Gap: There is very little research published in peer-reviewed Higher Ed journals on what PSE institutions are doing to address the skills mismatch. Most of the research seem to be from economics and labour relations journals as well as employer and government sources.
The publicly posted Strategic Mandate Agreements of 45 PSE institutions with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU), will reveal that public institutions are making efforts to serve the 21st century learner by providing experiential education in the form of co-op placements, internships, project-based learning, service learning, field experiences, co-curricular campus activities, etc. All these things will help the student graduate with the experience and soft skills that employers are looking for.
Research Question: How responsive are the academic faculties at Brock University to Labour Market and Employer Needs?