Aerial view of Ontario university campus
Future-Proofing Ontario’s Students
April 26, 2021

As COVID-19 continues to shift the province’s labour market, Ontario’s universities remain committed to our students and ensuring they are equipped with the adaptable skills they need for changing labour market demands.

During these challenging times, a university degree – and the skills and experiences that come with it – are critical to ensuring our changing workforce has the adaptable skills it needs. According to Ontario’s Long Term Report on the Economy, approximately two-thirds of all job openings will require a postsecondary education. In fact, in just three decades, jobs requiring a university education have increased by 145 per cent.

Responding to Labour Demand

As the impacts of COVID-19 continue to impact businesses across the province, employers will need adaptable talent that can navigate shifting economies and industries and help drive new jobs and companies in some of Ontario’s most in-demand sectors.

According to Canada’s Occupational Projection System Summary (2019-2028), prior to COVID-19, employment in STEM occupations was expected to grow by 15 per cent in Canada.

University students, following labour market demands, are enrolling in programs and fields of study that lead to careers in these high-demand areas. Between 2009 and 2019, we’ve seen a 92 per cent increase in enrolment in Math and Physical Science, 62 per cent in Engineering and Applied Science and 32 per cent in Health Professions.

Over the past decade, universities continue to see an increased demand for STEM education, particularly in roles with expected labour market shortages, such as computer engineers, software engineers and designers, computer programmers and interactive media developers and mechanical engineers.

Developing Life-long Learners

As changes in occupations, career paths and industries become the norm, Ontarians will need access to high-quality, short-duration skills development opportunities that meet the needs of today and tomorrow’s employers.

To future-proof the workforce of tomorrow, Ontario’s universities remain committed to providing students, workers and non-traditional learners with the life-long, adaptable skills that will fuel the changing workforce and help stimulate the economy.

Micro-credentials, short-duration programs and upskilling opportunities are critical to ensuring graduates and mid-career learners have access to flexible programs and resources to support them at any stage in their career. Meeting the needs of those seeking advancement, a career change or helping those displaced by shifts in the job market to re-enter the workforce, will be vital in building a more resilient economy.

As Ontario works towards economic recovery and building for future prosperity, the province will continue to need a strong, resilient and adaptable workforce. Ontario’s universities remain committed to the more than 570,800 students studying at our institutions and ensuring Ontario has the world-class talent and ground-breaking innovation it requires to create a better future for our students, communities and province.


Steve Orsini

Steve Orsini
President and CEO
Council of Ontario Universities