Ottawa, June 3, 2024—ICTC’s latest policy brief, Charting the Course: The Future of Higher Education in Canada, describes a collaborative vision for higher education excellence in Canada.

Recognizing that post-secondary graduates often lack work-ready skills that combine digital technology, interpersonal relations, workplace etiquette, and industry domain knowledge, an ecosystem approach to workforce development is needed, bringing together higher education institutions, industry partners, and not-for-profits.

Drawing on insights from six roundtables across Canada engaging 120 participants from 69 organizations across Canada, including 21 universities, 13 colleges, and five institutes of technology, the report’s key findings include: 

  • Digital economy labour shortages pose a significant threat to the health of the Canadian economy
  • Students need a broad range of knowledge and skills to be “workforce-ready”
  • Interpersonal skills and workplace etiquette are difficult to teach in an academic setting
  • Higher education institutions need to work with industry partners and not-for-profits to deploy practical opportunities for students to gain work-ready skills
  • Experiential learning is the process of “learning by doing” in a real-world work setting and is an effective way to teach many of the work-ready skills that are difficult to teach in academic settings
  • Examples of experiential learning include community service learning, co-ops, apprenticeships, placements, practicums, internships, labs, simulations, and work-integrated learning (WIL) programs 

Work-integrated learning programs help employers gain access to a new and more diverse talent pool, strengthen their relationship with higher education institutions, forge a talent pipeline, and reduce their financial burden in hiring when wage subsidies are provided, among other benefits.

“To address Canada’s shortage of digital tech workers, we need work-ready students and graduates who excel in interpersonal skills, workplace etiquette, domain expertise, and digital proficiency. The most effective way to cultivate truly work-ready talent is through an ecosystem approach that includes collaboration between post-secondary institutions, industry partners, and work-integrated learning providers.” — Mairead Mathews, Manager, Digital Policy, ICTC 

Read the Policy Brief


Charting the Course: The Future of Higher Education in Canada

About ICTC

The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) is a neutral, not-for-profit national center of expertise with the mission of strengthening Canada's digital advantage in the global economy. For over 30 years, and with a team of 110 experts, we have delivered forward-looking research, practical policy advice, and capacity-building solutions for individuals and businesses. The organization’s goal is to ensure that technology is utilized to drive economic growth and innovation and that Canada's workforce remains competitive on a global scale.

To arrange an interview on this study or other media inquiries, please contact Anne Patterson at @email

This study was funded in part by the Government of Canada Student Work Placement Program.