Despite a persistent and widespread impression that Québec`s English-speaking communities are economically outperforming their francophones counterparts, census data shows that English-speaking Québecers actually experience unemployment at higher rates and earn lower median incomes than French speakers.
Over the course of the past year, PERT has been building an inventory of the existing English-language vocational education and technical training programs in Quebec, available through institutions such as vocational centres, private colleges, CEGEPs, and others. English-speakers are an underexplored target demographic in this area. Our preliminary research has indicated that English-language Vocational Education and Technical Training (VETT) programs may be an important tool in helping to mitigate unemployment within the English-speaking community.
This article presents a cursory view of our initial findings regarding the inventory of English-Language Vocational and Technical training programs available in Québec. This work was also informed by interviews with program providers which aimed at understanding how individuals access these programs, and the challenges both students and institutions may face when accessing and delivering these programs.
Our preliminary data indicate that English-language vocational programming is often tethered to French-language learning opportunities, and often prepares English-speakers to enter bilingual or predominantly French workspaces.
Moreover, at this time French speakers pursue vocational education at double the rate of English speakers. Only 6.2% of English-speakers in Québec have a vocational education diploma, compared to 13.2% of French-speakers. Additionally, more than half of all English-language Vocational Education and Technical Training (VETT) programs offered in Québec (approximately 54%) are located on the island of Montréal. This limits access to these programs while increasing the cost for those who chose to relocate to access them.
In light of the current labour shortage, developing diverse and effective English-language VETT programming is important to Québec’s ability to mount a robust post-pandemic economic recovery. Vocational centres need to be empowered to respond more efficiently and organically to fluctuations in the labour market. Flexibility to respond to labour market demands is essential to functional and effective VETT programming. Our full inventory report will go into further detail about the accessibility barriers for English speakers in accessing these programs and opportunities for improvement in the services offered.
Our Vocational education inventory report is expected to be released in early 2022. Sign up for our email updates or follow us on social media to be among the first to know when the report is released.