Ontario Invests in New and Expanded Rapid Training Programs
April 23, 2021
TORONTO - The Ontario government is providing $15 million to accelerate the development of rapid training programs and help people retrain and upgrade their skills to succeed in their current careers or find new employment. In partnership with industry, employers and other organizations, the province is inviting postsecondary institutions to design more micro-credentials that will prepare Ontarians for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow. "We no longer live in a world where people work in the same profession for 40 years and retire with a golden watch," said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. "We know that Ontario workers will change careers and professions multiple times over the course of their lives and that is why we are providing more training options that will rapidly prepare people for good jobs." Postsecondary institutions will have eight weeks to submit proposals for funding under the Ontario Micro-Credentials Challenge Fund. Successful applicants will be notified by Summer 2021, and each institution and their partners will have until December 2021 to begin enrolment. "Universities and colleges connect the dots of Ontario's resilient economy by training sought-after graduates, future-proofing workers and offering relevant training opportunities that impact their local and regional communities," said Minister Romano. "Today, we are making good on our promise to create more industry-relevant training opportunities for Ontarians." Additional incentives will be available for postsecondary institutions with the best proposals in their provincial regions. Institutions that demonstrate success in enhancing community partnerships, driving economic recovery and increasing job growth will be eligible for an award of up to $1 million. This announcement is part of the Government's three-year $59.5 million micro-credentials strategy and builds on the recent announcement to provide financial support to students accessing hundreds of micro-credentials through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).
Micro-credentials are rapid training programs that help people retrain and upgrade their skills to find new employment. Alongside degrees, diplomas and certificates, micro-credentials offer a new postsecondary option for learners. Offered by public and private colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes, micro-credentials are short in duration, may be completed online, and can be designed for the specific needs of employers and jobs.
In March, the Ontario government expanded the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to include over 600 micro-credential programs, becoming the first province in Canada to financially support students taking micro-credentials.
The 2021 Budget, Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy, includes an additional $2 million to develop a virtual skills passport that tracks learners’ credentials to allow them to share credentials digitally with prospective employers.
The Ontario Micro-credentials Challenge Fund will support the creation of micro-credentials for a wide range of non-apprenticeable occupations. Training in the skilled trades is supported by a robust framework of programs and supports included in the province’s apprenticeship training system.
Funding for additional micro-credentials comes from the Canada-Ontario Workforce Development Agreement.
Quotes "Economic recovery will require a rapid return to work for many Ontarians. Our Workforce Development Council has advocated for micro-credential programs as one way to address local and sectoral needs. Retraining and upskilling the workforce will be a prerequisite for post-pandemic growth as demand for new skills emerges and some of the skills gaps predating the pandemic are further exacerbated. Workforce training is especially important for small- and medium-sized enterprises, which often lack the resources to develop internal training programs and have been profoundly impacted by the current crisis." - Rocco Rossi President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce "Micro-credentials are new doors to learning. They provide fast, affordable, and industry-focused learning opportunities for everyone seeking to learn a new skill. They help employers recruit, retrain, and retain valued employees. I am pleased to join Minister Romano and my colleagues today in celebrating this important investment. Micro-credentials are an essential part of the post-pandemic effort to retrain and support displaced workers, and to sustain the dramatically changing needs of Ontario industry. A shared micro-credential ecosystem across Ontario is pivotal to the larger, longer-term effort as we build towards economic recovery." - Dr. Robert Luke CEO, eCampusOntario "Today’s news is great for Ontario’s skills, training, and talent ecosystem. It empowers postsecondary institutions to lead the charge on micro-credential development in partnership with employers. Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) fundamentally believes that opportunity is created through collaboration and looks forward to working with our members and stakeholders across the province to ensure this initiative has the greatest possible impact on the students and workers who need it the most." - Valerie Walker CEO, Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER)
Learn more about Ontario’s plan for micro-credentials.