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Canadian colleges’ successes with disadvantaged learners Highlighted at UNESCO-UNEVOC Skills Summit

Ottawa, October 17 – Improving education and employment outcomes for disadvantaged learners is key to their future success and economic stability. At the UNESCO-UNEVOC Skills for Work and Life summit in Bonn, Germany, Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) introduced partners to the programs, support services and innovations that Canadian colleges are using to increase access to post-secondary education for vulnerable groups and discussed how these could work internationally.

The Skills for Work and Life summit is focused on the twin challenges of making youth employable and enhancing skills development. CICan launched Maximizing Opportunities for Disadvantaged and Low-skilled Learners to demonstrate how initiatives at Canada’s colleges, institutes and polytechnics are improving people’s lives through greater accessibility.

“The Young Parents Education Program at Colleges of the Rockies, like similar initiatives, is a great example of how enhancing essential skills and supporting families can lead young people to complete high school and prepare for post-secondary education,” said Denise Amyot, President and CEO of CICan and Chair of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics (WFCP). “Reducing the barriers that prevent young people from entering and completing post-secondary education is key to improved self-confidence, employment success and economic prosperity.”

This report is a valuable resource for CICan’s international colleagues and showcases a wide variety of programs offered by Canadian colleges, and institutes to support young people and other disadvantaged learners in overcoming barriers to employment. Canadian programs are adapted to the specific needs of underrepresented groups, such as disadvantaged youth, new immigrants, people with low-literacy, indigenous learners, as well as underemployed youth and adults looking to reintegrate the workforce after being injured or laid off.

“Canada’s colleges and institutes offer unique and practical approaches to engaging young people and creating opportunities for disadvantaged learners to succeed,” said Shyamal Majumdar, Head of UNESCO-UNEVOC. “Colleges and Institutes Canada is an important international partner and we are pleased they have chosen to release their findings here in Bonn.”


From left to right: Daniel Labillois director of the UNEVOC Centre at Cégep de la Gaspésie;
Pierre-Luc Gagnon, researcher at CIRADD (CTTT, Cégep de la Gaspesie); Isaak Chamberland, student at Cégep de la Gaspésie et de Îles; Marie-Josée Fortin, Director of International Parterships at CICan

About CICan

CICan is the national and international voice of Canada’s publicly supported colleges, cégeps, institutes and polytechnics. The Association works with industry and social sectors to train 1.5 million learners of all ages and backgrounds at campuses serving over 3,000 urban, rural and remote communities. CICan operates in 29 countries via 13 offices around the world. With the support of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO CICan is the pan-Canadian UNEVOC centre and lead for the North American Cluster of UNEVOC centres.


The UNEVOC Network is an exclusive global platform for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) with the aim to further mainstream South-South and North-South-South cooperation. The UNEVOC Network, coordinated by the UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre, is made up of UNEVOC Centres, which are established in TVET institutions and serve as focal points in the provision of services and platforms for international and regional cooperation in TVET.


For more information:
Shawn Dearn
Director of Communications
Colleges and Institutes Canada
613-746-2222 ext. 3123
Twitter: @CollegeCan