Why a college degree matters right now

Canada relies on colleges to train the workforce of the future. The Maclean’s Ultimate Guide to Canadian Colleges provides a roadmap for the students of tomorrow.
Sarah Fulford
Sarah Fulford, editor-in-chief of Maclean’s (photograph by Erin Leydon)

For the last decade, I have served as a volunteer member of the Humber Journalism Program Advisory Committee along with other media industry professionals: newspaper writers, TV producers, website editors, podcasters. Our job is to keep Humber’s journalism instructors informed about changes in the media business and let them know what kind of journalists we’re looking to hire. We profit from the arrangement, too: when we’re searching for junior staffers or interns, we have a direct pipeline to the next generation of talented grads.

My experience at Humber illustrates how deeply connected college programs are with the people working in those fields. In fact, that’s the core value proposition of the college experience: if you enrol, you’re getting access to programs that respond directly to what industry needs and what the job market wants.

And right now, the Canadian job market is desperate for skilled employees. As the baby boomers exit the workforce, the country is experiencing a historic labour shortage. Government officials are trying to answer the call of business leaders by relying heavily on colleges to train workers of the future and pumping money into the college system.

Many young people enter college straight out of high school, but a significant chunk of college-goers enrol mid-career or after earning university degrees. They’re upskilling in their professions or changing professions altogether. This guidebook is designed as a primer for anyone interested in a college education, regardless of age. The stories speak to people who know exactly what they want to study, as well as readers who are just flirting with the idea of a new line of work.

Our army of journalists consulted many experts to identify the hottest programs in the country, the best way to fund a diploma (yes, there are scholarships for college students!) and how to take advantage of some of the coolest aspects of a college education: co-op placements and study-abroad arrangements.

As part of my own education on the Canadian college experience, I had the pleasure of gathering together the presidents of three of the country’s colleges—Nova Scotia Community College, Lethbridge College and Humber College—for a roundtable discussion about what makes colleges such an important part of the economy. My conversation with them can be found on page 20.

All three presidents are enthusiastic evangelists for the value of a college education, and passionate about the students they nurture and the communities they serve. The world they describe made me want to drop everything and go back to school. We hope you’ll have the same impulse reading this special issue, and we wish you all the best on your college journey.

—Sarah Fulford

Here’s a preview of what you can find in the guidebook:
✈️What these international students wish they’d known before heading to college
🎓 How a college degree is the ticket to a massive career
📈 The best college programs for today’s job market

This article appears in print in the Maclean’s Ultimate Guide to Canadian Colleges. Buy it online here, and subscribe to Maclean’s magazine here.