How Ontario’s Universities are Building a Highly Skilled Workforce

As the province rebuilds from the pandemic, it will need highly skilled talent in high-growth fields, such as STEM and health care, to meet the demands of employers, fill critical skills gaps in an ever-evolving labour market and create Ontario-made solutions to solve complex challenges and attract investment.

Ontario’s universities remain committed to providing learners of all backgrounds with access to high-demand programs, including reskilling and upskilling opportunities to ensure the province has a highly skilled workforce in high-growth fields to navigate change, drive innovation and remain competitive on the global stage.

In order to meet growing demand and ensure universities can continue to support the province as it rebuilds, Ontario’s universities are asking the province to:

  • Increase new funded university spaces by more than 53,500 over the next five years in high-demand programs, such as health care, STEM and more. Boosting enrolment in these high demand programs will boost Ontario’s economic growth.
Reskilling and Upskilling Ontario's Workforce

Access to micro-credentials and continuing education programs will support life-long career success and ensure Ontarians of all backgrounds can continue to contribute meaningfully to Ontario’s economic growth and prosperity. Learn more about how universities are helping students and workers access these types of programs.

women in mask staring at screen
Fueling Ontario’s Economic Recovery Through Highly Skilled STEM Talent

A strong workforce that can fill the skills gap for the jobs of today and tomorrow are key ingredients for Ontario’s economic recovery, particularly in high-growth fields such as STEM and health care. Learn more about how universities are developing highly skilled talent in these fields to fill critical labour shortages and drive Ontario-made solutions.

Partnering to Develop a Highly Skilled Workforce

Resilient and adaptable talent will help Ontario navigate the shifting economies of today and tomorrow. Learn more about how universities are helping ensure the province has highly skilled talent in high-growth fields to drive innovation, rebuild our health-care system, attract investment and compete globally.

“Canada’s companies continue to depend on post-secondary institutions to produce new graduates with the skills they need.”
Making an Impact
on Ontario's workforce
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Supporting local businesses through student innovations in e-commerce
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Matching top humanities talent with local employers
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Developing the financial technology talent pipeline
How Universities Are
Supporting Ontario's Workforce

As the needs of the job market and employers continue to evolve, Ontario’s universities are helping build a strong talent pipeline and innovative Ontario-made solutions that will help fuel economic growth.

Ontario’s universities are leading the development of a highly skilled workforce by increasing spaces in high-demand fields, such as health care, engineering and computer science, and graduating students with the hard and soft skills employers are demanding.

Universities are also partnering with local communities and employers to help retain top talent across the province through increased access to reskilling and upskilling opportunities, such as micro-credential, short-duration and continuing education programs, that support life-long learning throughout their careers.

According to Ontario’s universities enrolment data, universities have increased enrollment in STEM programs by 52%, including 98% in math and physical sciences, 58% increase in engineering and applied science and 33% in agriculture and bioscience at Ontario’s universities between 2010 and 2020.

They offer more than 3,500 continuing education courses and have entered into more than 660 industry partnerships that help fill local, regional and provincial skills shortages.

The latest applications data as of January 2022 indicates that Ontario secondary school applications have increased by more than 11% over the last two years, including nearly 19% in biological and biomedical sciences, more than 13% in engineering and more than 41% in computer and informational science.

More than 120,000 students were enrolled in these programs at universities in 2020-21 – an increase of 27 per cent since 2017-18.

Universities are critical to the provision of talent that we look to hire….We continue to successively challenge [graduates] and to move up the ladder and become more and more senior managers as they go. so we are looking deep into our future. Every time we have an intake from universities, we’re looking at our future leadership.”
David Hudock, PCL Construction (BHER, Nov. 2021)
Partnering to Rebuild Ontario
Vibrant universities will continue to develop adaptable talent, help rebuild our health-care system, as well as drive innovation and regional economic development.

In order to meet growing demand and ensure universities can continue to support the province as it rebuilds, Ontario’s universities are asking the province to increase new funded university spaces by more than 53,500 over the next five years in high-demand programs, such as health care, STEM and more. Boosting enrolment in these high demand programs will boost Ontario’s economic growth.


By working together, we can navigate through this pandemic, safeguard Ontario’s health and economy and build a brighter future – not just for the students we teach and the communities we serve, but for Ontario’s future and all who live here.
Read the Report

In Partnering to Drive Ontario’s Recovery through Talent and Innovation, we outline how, as Ontario looks to rebuild and recover from COVID-19, Ontario’s universities are at the forefront of rebuilding a world-class health-care system; developing job-ready graduates; driving regional economic development; and creating solutions to Ontario’s challenges.

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