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Ontario Invests in 21st Century Skills Development and Introduces Tuition-Free PSW Program in Peterb

KAILIE COTTERILL, Office of MPP Laurie Scott

KAWARTHA LAKES: The Ontario government is transforming virtual learning across the province, by supporting nearly 400 innovative projects at colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes. Trent University and Fleming College will receive over $2 million towards 11 innovative virtual learning projects. These programs will help provide students with more choice and access to high-quality postsecondary education and retraining opportunities.

“These exciting projects will help people develop in-demand skills, by providing access to innovative educational technologies and better position them in the workforce,” explained Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.

“People’s lives are busy; working full time and raising families. They don’t always have the time to enrol in part-time courses in-person, to sharpen their skills or knowledge,” MPP Dave Smith stated. “In our rapidly changing economy, access to these online resources will support workers in their professional development and growth.”

The 11 projects are part of the province’s Virtual Learning Strategy announced last December, and support key priority areas which include: creating or adapting digital content, equipping faculty and students with skills and resources to teach and learn online, and identifying educational technologies to support online courses and programs. Some of the programs include:

• Fleming College, in collaboration with other educational institutions, is creating a series of eight micro-credential courses in the field of Virtual Reality. Working with subject matter experts, industry partners and employers, this micro-credential series will prepare learners with the high-demand skills and competencies employers are looking for in the industry.

• Trent University is creating and developing a micro-credential course in nursing leadership, to help nursing students prepare for a leadership role in the healthcare environment.

Trent University will receive $916,992 for their program development and Fleming College will receive $1,100,908 for a collective total of $2,017,830.

“These projects will build on and advance the skills and capacity of students and faculty at Trent through multi-media channels, such as virtual lab sessions, career development, and knowledge communication skills,” said Dr. Cathy Bruce, vice president of Research and Innovation at Trent. “The projects being led at Trent University contribute to the training of knowledgeable and highly qualified personnel [who] will, in turn, support the post-pandemic economy recovery.”

“Ensuring Ontario’s postsecondary institutions offer responsive and flexible digital courses and programs will help students build the skills and competencies they need to be competitive in today’s economy,” shared Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Our Virtual Learning Strategy is aimed at creating a platform [which] will allow all postsecondary institutions to compete in the new and necessary environment of learning from home.”

Last month, Fleming College started accepting applications for Ontario’s new accelerated training program for Personal Support Workers (PSW), including Peterborough and Lindsay Fleming College campuses.

“Our historic plan to build a modern long-term care system, in which residents receive four hours of direct quality care per day, requires strategic investments; investments [which] guarantee results for the seniors [who] deserve it,” MPP Dave Smith added. “Years of neglect cannot be fixed overnight. But today’s announcement is another concrete series of steps in creating a system that puts care at its centre.”

“This tuition-free accelerated program is another example of how our government is working to build a 21st-century long-term care system, and train more people to deliver the care our seniors deserve,” said Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.

“As many aspects of our lives and learning have transitioned to online, over the past year, we have had to adapt quickly. The investment from the Ontario government will help Fleming dedicate more resources towards virtual learning, to prepare for a future of hybrid delivery and provide more options for students,” explained Fleming President Maureen Adamson. “Also, at a time when there’s a demand for personal support workers in our communities, Fleming is happy, to contribute its expertise in health care training, to offer the accelerated PSW program.”

The program is part of the Ontario government’s $115 million investment to train up to 8,200 new PSWs; as part of the governments’ overall strategy to hire 27,000 new nurses, PSWs and allied health professionals, within the next few years.

The Accelerated PSW Training Program is a tuition-free opportunity for 6,000 new students. It is expected to only take six months to complete, rather than the typical eight months. After three months of coursework and experiential learning in a clinical setting, students will complete the final three months in paid onsite training in a long-term, home or community care setting.

The province also offers tuition assistance to in-process PSW students who started the program at one of Ontario’s publicly-assisted colleges in January 2021. These students will be eligible to receive a $2,000 grant, to help complete their studies, and a stipend, to complete their clinical placement as part of their training.

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