Teaching for tomorrow: Building the necessary skills today

Released September 2018

In Working Paper 33, Teaching for tomorrow: building the necessary skills today, the Institute examines whether Ontario’s education system is able to impart youth with 21st century skills. While talent development is one of Ontario’s key strengths, the Institute finds that youth do not have the skills required to thrive in future labour markets.

Main findings: 

  • Of the 1.3 million forecasted job openings between 2017 and 2021 in Ontario, the majority are for positions requiring reading comprehension, critical thinking, and social skills.
  • More jobs will require mathematics, complex problem solving, and resource management (including financial, personal, and time) skills, and at higher skill levels.
  • For each skill examined, the share of jobs that it is important for is projected to increase, meaning that Ontario’s workforce must generally be more skilled in the future.
  • There are currently gaps in the ability of Ontario’s education system to impart key 21st century competencies.

The report proposes 12 recommendations spanning elementary, secondary and post-secondary education (including colleges, universities and apprenticeships).

The Institute recommends the following changes at the K-12 level:

  • Retain but modify EQAO testing to add sample testing of vital 21st century competencies such as creativity alongside reading, writing, and math skills;
  • Evaluate students on their ability to demonstrate 21st century skills;
  • Phase out applied and academic streaming in grade 9;
  • Increase teacher development including:
    • Assessing all incoming teachers’ college students on their math knowledge and implementing a mandatory standardized mathematics foundations course at all Ontario faculties of education, and
    • Encouraging current teachers to engage in specialty education through subsidized professional development;
  • Introduce a compulsory business course with a digital literacy aspect; and
  • Review curricula more frequently.

The Institute recommends the following changes at the post-secondary level:

  • Involve the private sector more, and earlier, in program creation processes;
  • Facilitate easier student transfer between colleges and universities;
  • Incentivize the private sector to work with post-secondary institutions to create more accelerated (4-year) work-integrated learning degrees, to complement existing co-op opportunities;
  • Ensure thorough implementation of the Graduated Apprenticeship Grant for Employers and consider further reducing the ratio of journeypersons-to-apprentices; and
  • Collect more data, including feedback at the program or discipline level, rather than the institutional and course levels, and incorporate input from recent alumni rather than current students only.

This Working Paper complements Working Paper 29, The labour market shift: Training a highly skilled and resilient workforce in Ontario.

Topics: Social policy