March 18, 2021
The Ontario government is expanding the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to include nearly 600 micro-credential programs. Through this initiative, the province is ensuring loans and grants will be available to more learners looking to rapidly upskill and reskill for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.
"Ontario is the first province in Canada to financially support students taking micro-credential programs," said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. "Micro-credentials offer a short-term option for learners who might otherwise not have the time or flexibility to attend a multi-year college or university program. By helping Ontarians pay for these programs, our Government is continuing to support students who need help the most and provide them access to programs that they need to upskill, reskill and rejoin the workforce."
Micro-credentials are rapid training programs that help people retrain and upgrade their skills to find new employment. Offered by colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes, micro-credential programs are short in duration, can be completed online, and are often designed for the specific needs of employers and jobs. They can also be taken in isolation or packaged together alongside degrees, diplomas and certificates.
"The pandemic has had a devastating impact on our economy and many people have lost their jobs and are looking to rejoin the workforce or are looking to increase their skills and expertise in order to succeed in their current job or field," said Minister Romano. "By supporting these micro-credential programs our government is transforming Ontario's postsecondary education sector and opening the window of opportunity to those who are looking to develop a new set of skills quickly."
OSAP approved micro-credential programs include artificial intelligence, biometrics, software quality assurance and testing. Courses are also available in areas such as healthcare, including specialities in pediatrics and digital process automation.
Healthy people are essential for a healthy economy. On March 24, 2021, the government will release the 2021 Ontario Budget. It will focus on protecting people's health - with a plan to defeat COVID-19 - while supporting people and jobs.
As announced in the 2020 Ontario Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover, Ontario is investing $59.5 million over the next three years to further establish micro-credentials as a key component of Ontario’s internationally recognized postsecondary sector.
As additional micro-credentials are developed, the Ontario government will review them to determine if they should be eligible for financial assistance through OSAP.
Ontario provides grants and loans through OSAP to eligible students to help them with the costs of postsecondary education.
"This announcement means that Ontario’s colleges can be even more effective in supporting learners. As the province moves towards economic renewal, the government’s clear commitment to support learners of all ages will ensure Ontarians can reskill or upskill quickly, effectively and cost-efficiently for in-demand, well-paid jobs." - Linda Franklin President and CEO, Colleges Ontario
"Ontario’s universities welcome provincial support to help students most in need gain valuable access to micro-credential programs. Through short-duration programs, our institutions are working to ensure both traditional and non-traditional learners are equipped with the adaptable skills and tools they need to navigate a changing economy. Ontario's universities look forward to continuing to work with government and industry to help future-proof Ontario's workforce, as we rebuild Ontario together." - Steve Orsini
President and CEO, Council of Ontario Universities
"OSAP eligibility for micro-credentials will help more Ontarians access the education and training they need to get and keep jobs. eCampusOntario is pleased to partner in supporting micro-credentials, ensuring our world-class postsecondary institutions are able to deliver the effective virtual programming that meets the needs of learners, educators and industry. Today’s announcement by the Province will help learners everywhere have access to fast, affordable and industry-focused learning to help in career advancement." - Dr. Robert Luke CEO, eCampusOntario
"The past year has shown us that we need an adaptable and nimble workforce. For many Ontarians, being able to access an OSAP loan or grant and enroll in a recognized micro-credential program means that learners will be able to gain new skills and apply that learning in jobs where we need people now. As the provincial organization responsible for Ontario’s transfer system, we are also eager to work with all of our college, Indigenous Institute and university partners to build seamless pathways between micro-credentials and other postsecondary credentials." - Yvette Munro Executive Director, The Ontario Council on Articulation and Transfer