In Estimates on Monday May 7, I asked the Minister of Education and Learning about his perspective on whether he would try to improve Manitoba institutions position on the Maclean's rankings.
Mr. Gerrard: The minister has said he wants to improve learning. There are various measures of how well the post-secondary education institutions are doing, from Maclean's ranking to a variety of others. What is the minister's perspective on this, and is he going to try and improve rankings that are–is he taking another approach to improving learning?
Mr. Wishart: I thank the member for the question. And that's–those are long-term questions, long-term answers in terms of where the member is going. Certainly, in terms of improving the overall rating of our post-secondary institutions on a national basis or an international basis, actually, that's going to take a long time, and we're certainly very happy to work with post-secondary institutions. One of the things that–one of the messages we got very clearly out of the colleges review is some areas that needed improvement. You know, in terms of numbers of participants in the colleges system, we're a little behind some of the other provinces. That said, we got pretty good ratings out of some of the colleges in terms of their capability when you compare to other jurisdictions. But one of the points what was brought forward, and we talked about a little bit earlier–I don't know when the member was in the room–oh, can't do that–we talked about a little bit earlier about completion rates at colleges and make sure that we're getting a fair measure of those completion rates, because apprenticeship system–when someone doesn't turn up for an apprenticeship space, that reflects negatively on the college's completion rate, and that's something that isn't entirely their responsibility. So we want to make sure that that's done as well.
But we want to get more students, a higher percentage of our population, through colleges and universities. Our percentage of our population that is taking advantage of the university is sort of in line with other jurisdictions. We're a little low on the colleges side of side of things, so we see great opportunities in that area. And, frankly, as education moves forward, and I know the member is very familiar with the university system, we're also seeing some overlaps, some transitions, if you want to put it that way. There's people out there now talking about, well, the best type of education you could get in the STEM area would be two years of university and two years of college, because you would get that hands‑on thing, and that–we've had some of those discussions between institutions, and I think that that may be somewhere we'd go in the future. We're certainly looking at that as an option. We want to provide Manitoba students and Manitoba as a province with a really well-trained workforce with great opportunities. We've had some success attracting new higher tech industries. We've had some success in the past with the aerospace industry, and I know that there'll be more things coming down in that area.
So we need to align what we train in the workforce and the post-secondary institutions with the opportunities. And know I looked at other jurisdictions to see how they have done with this, and I know that there's been some universities that have used co-ops for an example, as one mechanism to certainly–to make those connections with industry and tie the labour market outcomes from their particular institution more strongly to a particular company, and that has worked in some jurisdictions, and that's something that I think we will have to have a look at as well. We haven't moved very far in that direction yet, relative to other jurisdictions. The number of co-ops that we have is relatively modest, so we do see potential in that area.
It all falls back to this whole cradled careers thing that–approach to education that we have talked about, to make sure that we have all of the pieces in the puzzle, and that we don't lose people in the transitions. Whether it's the early-years transition, whether it's the high school to post-secondary transition, we don't want to lose them as part of the process. They always need to see a path forward, and so we need to work very closely with–not only with the K-to-12 system, but post-secondaries to make sure that that happens.