On June 21, 2016, The Conference Board of Canada released a report on the "role and value of private career colleges in Canada.” The report highlights the role regulated private career colleges play in post-secondary education in enabling learners to gain skills for employment and also acknowledges that a number of institutions are pipelines for employers seeking skilled workers.
Canada has more than 1300 private post-secondary institutions training over 170,000 students annually and award certificates and diplomas in fields such as trades, health care, information-technology, art and design, transportation, personal services, and law enforcement.
Private career colleges often attract students who have no prior post-secondary education, or workers who are making a career change and need to upgrade or add to their skillset. They also fill a void by offering programs not usually provided by public colleges and universities, are shorter in duration or offer schedule flexibility.
Some hurdles private career colleges face is that some graduates have discontentment with the cost of their training or that some employers have preferences for public college graduates. Many private colleges however build and maintain relationships with employers to ensure that their curriculum is relevant to industry needs, and that students have access to hands-on training in the form of practicums. Employers benefit from private career colleges as they have access to talent that meets specific needs.
The report identified other challenges private post-secondary institutions face and made a number of recommendations for both career colleges and government regulators to take, to improve their role in Canada’s post-secondary system. Among some recommendations for regulators includes harmonizing regulations across the country, benchmarking quality standards and tracking performance, and enhancing student protection measures. Private colleges themselves need to expand their quality assurance initiatives, build strong relationships with other institutions and strengthen their connections with employers.