Commentary about the most important agents of change that are beginning to have a profound impact on education, training and career development in Ontario

by Robert Kirwan, O.C.T., B.A.(Math), M.A.(Education)

"INFLUENTIAL AGENTS OF CHANGE" is one of a series of online publications that are being made available through The Learning Clinic Education Centre. 

These publications have been written by Robert Kirwan, founder and director of The Learning Clinic Education Centre. Kirwan is a Professional Learning Coach who operates a private practice as an Independent Education & Career Development Agent.

Many of the publications will be supplemented with a variety of other forms of media. Some will include a video component. Some will include an audio component. Most will be available in print online so that you can take time to read the information that is most pertinent to your own situation. The nice thing about an online publication is that you can always share it with your family and friends who may also benefit from the contents.

"INFLUENTIAL AGENTS OF CHANGE" is a look at some of the major things in society today that are beginning to have a very important influence on the manner in which we are dealing with education and career development in Ontario. These Agents of Change will be examined in this publication in the hopes of helping our readers better understand why these changes are so important to the future of our children.




When I first opened my private practice as an Independent Education & Career Development Consultant in January 2007, it was because I felt that I could be part of a very important movement in the world of education and career development. It had become evident that change was coming and that the most significant agents of change had already arrived and were beginning to establish a foundation upon which to build.

I felt that I could make a difference, even if I was only one person. I felt that my I was beginning the most important chapter of my life, and that what I had to offer to students, parents, grandparents, teachers, and others who are interested in education and career development would help effect change that is so desperately needed in these fields.

I have often turned to my favourite story of all time, THE STAR THROWER for inspiration and the assurance I sometimes need to make me realize that, yes I am only one man, and no I can't get my message out to everyone, but I can make a difference to you, because you are reading this publication today. And that makes what I am doing worthwhile. 

Let me share the story with you. It is called The Star Thrower, and is written by Loren Eiseley. Her story has been told and retold so many times that I am sure it would be next to impossible to find the original version, but the story goes something like this:


Once upon a time there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to walk along the beach and enjoy the waves crashing upon the rocks. Early one morning he was walking along the shore by himself. As he looked down the deserted beach, he saw a human figure in the distance. As he got closer to the stranger, he saw that it was a young teenage boy. The boy was reaching down to the sand, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean. As the old man got closer, he yelled out, "Good morning, young fellow. What are you doing?"

The teenager paused, looked up and replied, "Throwing starfish back in the ocean."

"Why on earth are you doing that?" asked the old man.

The boy replied, "Because the sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in they’ll die."

The old man looked at the teenager in disbelief and said, "But the beach goes on for miles and miles and there are starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference."

The young boy listened politely, then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, "It made a difference for that one." And then the very wise young boy continued on his way down the beach, bending down and throwing starfish after starfish back into the ocean.


In fact I believe that there are eight (8)  Influential Agents of Change that are working their magic today in the areas of education and career development. They will continue to build momentum in the coming years and fortunately for our youth, the changes will be positive.

The eight (8)  greatest agents of change that we have working in society today are:

  1. Professional Learning Coaches
  2. Employment & Recruitment Agencies
  3. Private Career Colleges
  4. Labour Organizations and Unions
  5. Distance Education Centres
  6. Personal Wellness Coaches
  7. Financial Literacy Advisors
  8. Northern Ontario Post-Secondary Institutions

During the course of this publication I will provide you with an overview of each of the above seven influential agents of change. Some are having a more profound impact than others, while some are taking longer to establish their roots. Nevertheless, each of the above areas will definitely change the way we approach education and career development n the very near future.


The Learning Clinic  Presents...



Chapter One
Professional Learning Coaches

Chapter Two
Employment & Recruitment Agencies

Chapter Three
Private Career Colleges

Chapter Four
Labour Organizations and Unions

Chapter Five
Distance Education Centres

Chapter Six
Personal Wellness Coaches

Chapter Seven
Financial Literacy Advisors

Chapter Eight
Northern Ontario Post-Secondary Institutions



I truly believe that The Learning Clinic Education & Career Development Agency is a new type of professional practice that you can expect to see springing up throughout the province in the not-so-distant future. The nature of education and career development today is creating a real need among parents for guidance as they help their children overcome the many challenges that they face as they are working their way through the education system today and preparing for entry into a satisfying career.

By the year 2020 most families will have their own "Family Learning Coach" to whom they can turn for expert advice on a whole range of issues dealing with education and career development. These Professional Learning Coaches will be able to find suitable tutors for students who need some assistance with their studies and they will also be able to "represent" parents and students in pseudo-legal matters involving schools.

I have established The Learning Clinic Education & Career Development Agency as a model from which future professionals may develop their own practices. This web site could be a very effective framework of what a Professional Learning Coach may offer to families who become registered as clients. I have tried to turn this site into a "library of resources" for students, parents, grandparents and teachers. 


A Professional Learning Coach will help parents better understand the kind of tutoring options that are available for their children today. There are many different kinds of franchise tutoring companies that are being formed as the demand for tutoring increases. However, there are some forms of tutoring that are more beneficial than others. An Family Learning Coach or Education Advisor will help you determine what type is suitable for your own children.

A Parent's Guide to Tutoring has been written precisely for the purpose of helping parents sort out the differences between all of the tutoring options in the marketplace today in order to determine which is best for meeting the needs of their children. By clicking on the button to the left you can access this publication and discover these differences.


One of the most exciting areas I am expecting to develop in the next several years involves representing parents at IPRC meetings to discuss the provision of special education services for their children. The whole IPRC and IEP process is so very complex that many parents find themselves totally confused when all things are said and done. The publication that can be accessed above will provide you with a very comprehensive guide to the process if you must go it alone. However, for a small price you can hire a person like myself to act on your behalf during the entire process. This is a "legal process", so it makes sense to have representation.


When you arrive at the home page of The Learning Clinic Education Centre you will find a host of other sections that will provide you with inspiration & motivation as well as keep you well informed about a wide variety of topics. When you eventually find a Family Education Advisor for your own family, make sure that he/she provides you with all of the services and resources that are available through The Learning Clinic. Your children are depending on you.



Employment agencies will take on much more of a role in career development in the future simply because of the fact that upwards of 80% of all job openings are no longer advertised to the general public. It is a well-known fact that most job openings have now become part of this “hidden job market”. 

Employers have discovered that if is far more cost-effective to hire employment agencies to find suitable candidates to fill vacancies in their workplaces. They no longer want to spend hundreds of man-hours sifting through hundreds of job applications and resumes to narrow down the candidates to about a dozen or so for interviews. Then they have to make arrangements to listen to the interviews and make a guess as to who will fill the positions.

Employment agencies take care of the work for you. Whenever you need to fill a vacancy, you contact one or more of the over 600 employment agencies in the Province of Ontario and tell them what you are looking for in a candidate. The agency then sends you several people to interview. These people are on the agency data base and have all had their resumes checked for authenticity. Once the interviews are finished and you select the person for the job, you pay a fee to the agency and you have your vacancy filled. You don't need to tie up your staff with resumes and interviews. You don't need to spend hundreds or thousands on advertising to find people who are interested in your position. Furthermore, if the person you hire doesn't turn out, the agency guarantee will mean that you can hire one of the other candidates you interviewed at no additional cost to your company.

Employment agencies are in the business of matching the needs of employers with people who are looking for employment. Agencies can fill the needs of a company on a short-term temporary basis, or on a long-term contract. Agencies are also in the recruitment business which means that they will search for the best candidates for permanent positions. In the fast-paced world in which we live today, it makes perfect sense for companies to use the services of an employment agency for their recruitment needs. This is "outsourcing" that pays for itself many times over.

The implications for job-seekers, is that unless you are registered with a number of different employment agencies, you are going to be missing out on 80% of the job openings that come up. This is why I recommend that young people register with an employment agency as they leave high school. Get your name on the registry early and keep updating your information so that when you graduate with your diploma or degree, the agencies will be looking to find that first entry level position in your chosen career. It doesn't cost anything to register and it is the company that hires you that pays the fee to the agency.

Employment agencies are also very useful for people who are looking for another career or to move to another community in the same career. By registering with a number of agencies, you will have a chance to be considered for vacancies that come up that may be of interest to you. It is just like having your "own agent" searching out the best companies willing to pay for your services. Many people have been able to move up the ladder within their own career field by having agencies find new positions in different companies and then making the switch. In most cases, you wouldn't even have found out the opportunity existed if you were to try looking on your own.

Many people who are retiring today are also looking for new positions that might utilize the skills they have developed over the years. Employment agencies make sense for them as well. Registering with an employment agency means that your name will come up if a company is looking for someone with your experience to fill one of their vacant positions.

If you click on the button to the right you will be taken into a publication that has been prepared to help provide some effective strategies for students with respect to education and career development. As you read through that publication you will see just how important Employment Agencies will become in the future. Finding an entry level position in any career will be a whole lot easier if you go through an employment agency. 



As more and more attention is being made to the impact of personal health and wellness on every aspect of one's life, people are becoming aware of the fact that maintaining an excellent level of fitness and health helps them become more successful in school and on the job.

The problem of obesity among young people is resulting in an increased effort to make sure that students have opportunities during the day to exercise. Organized sport can do only so much with respect to maintaining a healthy level of fitness and parents are being urged to do more with their children outside of school.

In addition, there are many wellness centers being established around the city providing patients with a wide variety of alternative and natural based treatments for a variety of illnesses. 

This attention to personal fitness levels is going to go a long way to increasing productivity and one's ability to enjoy a better quality of life.

This publication will rely upon experts from the community to provide us with information and recommendations with respect to personal wellness.



The Ministry of Education announced that it will be introducing financial literacy into the Ontario curriculum for Grades 4 through 12 beginning in September 2011. This means that there will be curriculum committees established and working on curriculum documents between now and the summer of 2011 as they try to come up with a formal integrated package that deals with financial literacy in time for implementation in the fall of 2011.

We have a number of very knowledgeable professionals in the Greater Sudbury Area who are available to provide valuable advice and guidance to students and parents with respect to financial concepts and information that will be pertinent to post-secondary education. In order to help students avoid a large financial debt when they graduate with their diploma or degree, we will be attempting to give them some strategies to follow that may help them when making some very important decisions in the years to come.  



Distance education is becoming increasingly necessary as students at the secondary and post-secondary levels discover that they need credits in subjects that are much more easily obtained through correspondence rather than through the local university or college institutions. 

Distance education courses allow a student to “fill in the gaps” with respect to courses that must be obtained as prerequisites for post-secondary programs. These courses are easy to register in and have flexible start times. 

Distance Education is almost like attending a “virtual” private career college in that you can take a course when you need it, accommodating your current work or school schedule while you are taking the courses. 


Labour organizations became popular in the 19th Century and have experienced their ups and downs over the years, but with approximately 35% of all employees now belonging to some form of labour union or organization, there appears to be a steadily building movement among the market to an upturn in popularity among employees today.

Therefore, since many entry level positions in careers will be with unionized companies in the future, measures will have to be taken to help young people become more familiar with the role of unions as well as the "culture" that exists in unionized environments.

There are several indications that labour organizations will play a huge role in the lives of our young people moving forward.

  1. Almost all public-sector employees, federal, provincial and municipal, are already unionized and have the automatic checkoff provision in their collective agreement. 
  2. Employees realize that as a group perhaps the only opportunity available to them to secure better working conditions still lies in unionization and collective bargaining.
  3. Union members typically make much more per hour than non-union workers. For example, it has been estimated that only 8% of union members earn less than $10 per hour.
  4. About 80% of union members have benefits while less than 40% of non-union workers can say the same.
  5. In terms of pensions, seniors who retired from a unionized job with a pension plan had an average income twice as high as those who were without a pension plan. Also, 80% of unionized workers have access to a pension plan while only 27% of non-union workers have access to a pension plan.
  6. Unionized workers have longer paid vacations and more weekends off than non-union workers.

All of these benefits are things upon which the younger generation places a high priority. In addition, with more people seeking higher education than ever before, entry level positions will likely come with national or international companies. The larger the company, the more likely that it will be unionized and represented by one of the international labour organizations.

A further fact is that many graduates of our universities are finding entry level positions in one of the levels of government, most of which are unionized. Therefore, they will be stepping directly into a unionized environment right out of school.

Finally, it appears as if "collective representation" is becoming well accepted among all segments of society. Professional athletes fall under collective agreements even though they negotiate individual contracts. Professional actors are also under a collective agreement for certain elements of their profession. It appears as if anyone who is anyone has some sort of representation when it comes to dealing with "management", so unions are becoming recognized as being a very important part of the workplace. There is safety in numbers and people like having someone else act on their behalf when it comes to rights and benefits.

This publication will rely upon various leaders of labour organizations to help us to a better understand of just what it means to belong to a union. Our young people must be informed so that they know what to expect after graduation.



It would appear as if the "lure of the south" is beginning to waiver. More and more graduates of Greater Sudbury secondary schools are expressing a desire to attend post-secondary institutions which will allow them to combine their studies with a quality of life to which they have become. This means that smaller colleges and universities are going to become more attractive in the coming years. For some, that means that Laurentian, Cambrian and College Boreal will become their preferred choices. 

Laurentian University logo

Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology logo

Collčge Bor顬 logo


However, there are still going to be a number of secondary school graduates who will want to move away from home to attend school. By moving to Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay, Timmins or Thunder Bay, these students will be able to attend smaller schools which will be able to help them obtain the kind of education they desire and still be living away from home, but just close enough to get back quickly if necessary.

It is also becoming apparent that when you are seeking entry to a career, very few employers care much about "where" you obtained your degree. They just want to know that you have a degree. Therefore, when you consider that you can get a much more personal and intimate education at a smaller institution in Northern Ontario, rather than becoming swallowed up in the large classes of the south, it makes a great deal of sense to stay in the north for your undergraduate degree.

Students who wish to move on to post-graduate studies still have the opportunity to move to the larger institutions at that time, knowing that the marks they will be obtaining at a smaller school will likely be much higher because of the closer attention and support that is available.

Algoma University
1520 Queen Street East
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario P6A 2G4
Telephone: (705) 949-2301
Sault College
PO Box 60, 443 Northern Avenue
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario P6A 5L3
Telephone: (705) 759-6774
Nipissing University
PO Box 5002, 100 College Drive
North Bay, Ontario P1B 8L7
Telephone: (705) 474-3461 ext. 4521
Canadore College of Applied Arts and Technology
100 College Drive, PO Box 5001
North Bay, Ontario P1B 8K9
Telephone: (705) 474-7600
Lakehead University
955 Oliver Road
Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 5E1
Telephone: (807) 343-8110
Confederation College of Applied Arts and Technology
1450 Nakina Drive, PO Box 398, Station F
Thunder Bay, Ontario P7C 4W1
Telephone: (807) 475-6110
  Northern College of Applied Arts and Technology
PO Box 3211
Timmins, Ontario P4N 8R6
Telephone: (705) 235-3211

Of all of the most influential trends that will shape the next decade in the field of education and career development, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that nothing will have more of an impact than private career colleges. This is because the structure of private career colleges is conducive to the needs of students of all ages today, including adults and retirees. It is also because the traditional public institutions, namely universities and community colleges, are unwilling or unable to facilitate changes in time to adjust to the needs of the new generation of students. Public schools are still run as they always have been and have not adapted to the changing demands of today’s students. The fact that private career colleges can adapt to changes much faster will allow them to become more attractive to students than will be the traditional systems.

Consider some of the main attractions of private career colleges:

  1. Short length of time to complete programs: Many students graduate from secondary school with an intense desire to get right into their chosen career field. These students do not want to spend another three or four years going to school to get a diploma with up to 50% of all courses taken actually unrelated to their concentration or specialty. They like the fact you can get a diploma from a private career college in less than a year. They also like the fact that you don’t waste any time taking subjects that are not going to help you in your career. Since career life-spans have contracted significantly in the past couple of decades, with many people expecting to change careers every seven or fewer years, students will not want to spend three years getting qualified for a seven year career. Private career colleges are an attractive alternative, but at the present time very few secondary school graduates are aware that this option even exists.
  2. Flexibility in scheduling classes: Students who attend private career colleges like the fact that you can attend class in the morning or afternoon, and often during the evenings in some cases. This gives students plenty of time to take on part-time jobs in order to support themselves while going to school. They also like the fact that they come to school, attend their classes, and then go home. There is no time wasted waiting in between classes. School is run like a business and students like this approach. It is much different from traditional publicly funded institutions.
  3. Less expensive than traditional colleges and/or universities: Once they compare the overall cost of attending school, they find that private career colleges are much less expensive than traditional post-secondary institutions. They see that the cost of tuition is pretty well the same, but they actually save a great deal of money for living expenses because they only need one year to get their diploma instead of three. As well, they begin earning a full salary up to two full years before their peers who go the traditional route and attend a community college.
  4. Instruction is more efficient with focus on what you need to learn: Students appreciate the fact that private career colleges have eliminated the frills that are not needed as part of the program. What you are taught in your course is relevant to your upcoming career. There is very little to distract you and you don’t find yourself wasting valuable time studying and doing assignments for elective courses that will mean nothing in terms of preparing you for your career. They also like the fact that you take one subject at a time, therefore you can focus your attention on one course instead of up to five or six at a time. This “immersion” approach is much more effective and students find that they learn and retain concepts much faster and better.
  5. Diploma is recognized by all employers: Students are also becoming more aware of the fact that diplomas from registered private career colleges are recognized by the Ministries. Therefore, they are questioning why they should spend three years at a community college when they can get the same diploma in one year at a private career college. The more that private career colleges like CTS can raise their community profile and image, the more likely students will accept that it is the diploma that counts, not the school. Students today are very much time conscious. They cherish their time and do not want to waste it. Once they find out that they can save two years of study, and thereby having two more years of earning income by attending a private career college, there is virtually no question as to what they prefer.


There are over 425 licensed/registered private career colleges operating in the Province of Ontario with a total annual enrolment of over 27,000 students. Traditionally, these private career colleges served students mainly from the following groups:

  1. Unemployed or injured adults seeking re-training for new employment opportunities
  2. Disabled adults seeking qualifications for employment
  3. Older adults seeking re-entry to the workplace
  4. Adults on welfare or social assistance who are trying to qualify for meaningful employment
  5. HRDC and Social Service funded clients

During the past decade or so, the average age of students attending private career colleges has been dropping rapidly due mainly to the fact that in addition to the traditional sources of students, private career colleges are beginning to draw students from several other areas, notably:

  1. Older adults who wish to change careers, but who do not want to spend three years at a community college;
  2. University and College students who have dropped out of their original program after 1 or 2 years;
  3. Young adults who went directly to work after high school and who now want to get into a meaningful career;
  4. Graduates right out of secondary school who want to get their diploma in one year instead of three;
  5. University graduates who are seeking a specific diploma to qualify for an entry level position in a company.

It has become evident that there are new market segments turning to private career colleges as a means to satisfy their career goals and objectives. These are quite different markets than private career colleges have been accustomed to, and some changes are going to have to be made in how the organizations operate in the future with respect to recruitment and marketing. Change is inevitable and the private career colleges which are going to survive in the future must take steps to prepare themselves for the demands of a whole new cohort of students.


There is growing evidence to suggest that the majority of future enrolments in private career colleges are going to come from three main demographic groups. In preparing this document, I have limited my examination to the City of Greater Sudbury , however, bear in mind that similar data can be put together for North Bay and Barrie , as well as any other city in the province. What is happening in Sudbury is reflective of what is occurring across the province. Future students attending private career colleges will come from:

  1. The 22,000 people between the ages of 18 and 29 currently residing in Greater Sudbury
      Many of these people went to work right after high school yet 70% of all jobs require post-secondary training.
      Many of these people are underemployed graduates of college and/or university currently in meaningless jobs
      Many of these people are post-secondary school graduates who cannot find a job in their field of study.
      Many of these people dropped out before fully completing their college and/or university program
      Many of these people are going to change jobs three or more times and will need retraining with each change.
      These people definitely do not want to go back to school for two or three years every time they change jobs.
      Many of these people have younger brothers and sisters attending area secondary schools.
  2. The 38,000 people between the ages of 35 and 50 living in Greater Sudbury
      Many of these people need jobs with higher pay because of the increasing expenses of raising a family.
      Many of these people are re-entering the labour market and need to retrain to get entry level jobs.
      Many of these people are in need of further training for advancement and promotion in their current career.
      Many of these people have sufficient savings to go back to school and start over.
      Many of these people have children attending area secondary schools.
  3. The 20,000 people between the ages of 55 and 65 living in Greater Sudbury
      Many of these people are approaching retirement from their primary careers.
      Many of these people want to continue working in some capacity and are willing to retrain to get a new job.
      Many of these people want to begin their own business and need help getting started
      Many of these people have children and/or grandchildren attending area secondary schools.

As you can see from the above demographic group profiles, many of the people in each group have a direct relationship with students who are currently enrolled in area secondary schools. The secondary schools operating in Greater Sudbury could therefore play a very important part in the success or failure of private career colleges in Sudbury . More will be said about this later on in the document. From a statistical point of view, it is best to consider that the secondary schools feed the demographic group of 18 to 29 year olds. Each of the students between the ages of 14 and 18 who are attending secondary school will, at the end of four years or less, find themselves in the 18 to 29 year old demographic group. It is also important to note, as demonstrated in each of the profiles above, that all students in secondary schools have brothers, sisters, parents and/or grandparents who belong to one of the three main demographic groups from which will come the future students attending private career colleges. Consider the following information before we move on any further: 

  1. There are 12,000 students in secondary schools in Sudbury who will all graduate during the next 4 years.
      6,000 of these students will end up going directly to work after high school.
          > 70% of all jobs require some post-secondary school training so they will need to return to school at some time in the future. The longer they stay out of school, the least likely they will want to return to a community college like Cambrian or Collage Boreal. They will be prime candidates for a private career college

        3,000 of these students will drop out or not complete their original college/university program
             > These students will need to complete a full diploma course in order to qualify for meaningful jobs. However, they are not likely going to want to begin a full program of studies all over again because of time and financial constraints. They will be ideal candidates for enrolment in a private career college

        1,500 of these students will end up being underemployed or require another diploma
             > They will not want to return for another 2 or 3 years of schooling. They will be looking for a quick course that will qualify them for entry into their chosen career. A strategically chosen course from a private career college will help them achieve their goals.  

It is also important to note the number of students enrolled at the public-sector post-secondary institutions in the region. Some of these students come from outside the area, but a significant portion of the students do come from local secondary schools and fall within the 18 to 29 year old demographic group, which is one of the groups from which future students will be drawn by private career colleges.

  1. There are 15,000 post secondary students in Sudbury who will all be out of school during the next 4 years.
      7,500 of these students will not complete their original program of studies
           > They will seek alternative training that they can complete quickly. It is unlikely that they will want to begin a new program that will result in extra years and much more expense. They will be ideal candidates for private career college courses that will help them get into their chosen field.
    4,000 of these students will end up underemployed when they graduate and will need more education
            > They will need some retraining in order to get into an entry level career position. They will consider using a diploma from a private career college to gain that entry level. They will not want to take a two or three year course at a community college after already spending four years at university or college.


Despite the fact that there are so many private career colleges in the Province of Ontario , very few people in the major demographic market segments described above know much about these institutions. And there is no evidence to suggest that this situation is going to change much unless private career colleges completely revise their recruitment, marketing, and public relations policies. I do not intend to address all of the barriers and obstacles that are preventing the growth and expansion of private career colleges, however, I will include what I feel are some of the major ones.

  1. Lack of awareness among new target market demographic groups:
    Few people know about Private Career Colleges, therefore most of the potential students in the target market groups described above will not even consider this an option when selecting which school to attend in order to obtain their career qualifications. Very little information is presented at high school about private career colleges, mainly because the classroom teachers, all products of university, know very little about private career colleges. What little they do know is from the “old days” when private career colleges were considered institutions for “older adults” who couldn’t handle the pressures of a “normal” community college. There is so much misinformation in the community and the schools about private career colleges that potential students are not even considering attending a private career college until they are desperate and referred by someone from social services. The general public perception is that private career colleges are only a “last ditch” option if you can’t get into any other institution. That is why such a high percentage of students at private career colleges are being funded by social services. They are being “forced” to attend a private career college because it is a quick way to get people off of the social service roles. This in itself has tarnished the image of private career colleges which many feel are for people who are on welfare or unemployed. I once taught a marketing module to a business class at a local private career college and during our first session while we were going through introductions, one of the students said, “Welcome to the class of losers.”
  2. Lack of credibility as a post-secondary training option among secondary school students:
    Most secondary school students have been convinced that a 3-year community college program is better than a 52 week private career college program because the community college program is seen as producing a more “rounded” student. As a result, many potential students are never given a chance to find out how the program at a PCC contains about the same amount of instruction time as a community college or that the programs also contain the same required core curriculum that one will receive in a community college. Students have been lead to believe that the shorter length of program means less quality of instruction when in actual fact, the additional length of a program at a community college is only because of the “extra curriculum subjects” that are included as fillers to make the program last longer. The core material is the same, otherwise, the Ministry would not recognize the diplomas issued by private career colleges. This message must be delivered in order to improve the credibility of private career colleges. In my own case, for example, it took me three years to get a math degree from Laurentian. During that time I took only five math courses. All of the others were electives that were not necessarily even related to math. I could have completed my degree in one year, taking one course at a time, one after the other. This is how a private career college operates.
  3. Competition with public sector colleges and universities that have ties to public sector secondary schools:
    The public sector feeds the public sector, hence, publicly funded high schools promote publicly funded community colleges and universities. There is nothing unusual about this, but it certainly places private career colleges at a disadvantage. The community colleges and universities also get preferred status when it comes to presentations and recruitment sessions. Private career colleges, on the other hand, are depicted as business enterprises that are interested only in making profit, and not as interested as public institutions in the quality of education. This couldn’t be any further from the truth; however, that is the perception among the public school system and in particular among the public school teachers. Private career college representatives must therefore work much harder at getting into the schools for presentations and recruitment sessions. When I represented a private career college as a secondary school liaison I found I was accepted by the teachers because I was ‘one of them’ in that I taught for 28 years and was still a member of the Ontario College of Teachers. I passed the credibility test with the secondary schools so they allowed me to make my presentations.
  4. Unregistered PCC’s generate a lot of bad publicity:
    Each year there are far too many horror stories about students who have been treated poorly by unlicensed private career colleges. The general public does not know the difference between registered and unregistered private career colleges, so they tend to paint all private career colleges with the same brush. The classroom teachers and guidance counselors in secondary schools do not know much about the local private career colleges, so they tend to recommend the publicly funded universities and community colleges that they have full knowledge of from years of experience. There are not as many spectacular stories in the media about community colleges and universities being charged with fraud or operating illegally. You will seldom find teachers or counselors recommending a private career college for this very reason. They would rather avoid any chance of giving students bad advice so they stick to the public sector institutions instead. It is very much a choice between the “devil you know or the devil you don’t know”. Teachers will always recommend the “devil they know”.


This brings me to the main purpose of this discussion paper. As you know, I operate a private practice as an education, training and career development consultant. My job is to help students achieve their education and career planning goals. I am convinced that private career colleges will play a huge role in education and career development in the coming years, so I feel that it is extremely important for people to know much more about these institutions. In order for this to happen it is critical that steps be taken to raise the profile of private career colleges in the community. This cannot be accomplished through traditional advertising and marketing methods, but must instead be done using a much more direct relationship-building strategic plan of action. The good news is that the cost of these new strategies is much less than the cost of mass media marketing and will produce a much better and longer-lasting return on investment.

It is my hope that the Greater Sudbury Education Centre will be able to help make a difference in the lives of students of all ages who might prefer to secure their training through a private career college in the area.

As you can see from the list below, there are a significant number of privately owned training facilities in the Greater Sudbury Area. They all offer unique education services which will help you obtain a certificate or diploma that will allow you to qualify for your chosen career.


The Learning Clinic is The Private Practice of
Robert Kirwan, B.A. (Math), M.A. (Education), OCT
4456 Noel Crescent, Val Therese, ON P3P 1S8
Phone: (705) 969-7215    Email:

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Infocom Canada Business Consultants Inc.