In 2016 Mohawk College rolled out City School. It was aimed at extending post-secondary education and training to disadvantaged communities, particularly in the lower city, where education and income levels are lower than the rest of the city, and where barriers to post-secondary education are higher. An equal goal of City School was to support employers by filling industry-identified skills gaps matching employee training to job needs. City School is funded by Mohawk College, supported by grants. Courses are offered tuition-free to participants and are conducted in convenient neighbourhood settings like the Eva Rothwell Centre Once enrolled in City School, participants can earn up to two college credits, which can then apply to college programs at Mohawk. Each semester offers an array of subjects, from Horticulture and Landscaping to Child Development and Behavior. There are also broad, entry level ‘College 101’ courses, designed to help participants develop core skills that are required in college.
After four years and with nearly 500 students having participated Mohawk College commissioned Deloitte to prepare and Economic Impact study of the program. The summary findings of the survey were as follows:
Hamilton has excelled in the face of global competition and disruption to its traditional industries. The rise of its advanced manufacturing and service sectors has led to a strong economic growth and low unemployment. But, not all have been lifted by the overall strong performance. Moving forward, Hamilton will need to address its challenges with economic inequalities, which can be achieved through expanding access to education, skills development, and employment. Tackling these areas will not only benefit impoverished population segments, but it will also elevate Hamilton businesses, who require skilled workers to compete.
As a bridge to education and employment opportunities, City School represents a step in the right direction. It shows the benefits to employment- and demand-driven education. While it is still in its early stages, the data is clear that the program reduces barriers to education, mitigates the skills gap challenge, and promotes stronger, healthier, and more resilient communities.
Most important of all the findings is how it has affected the students. They were overwhelmingly positive in their response.
To review the full report: