Saskatchewan employers say high schools not adequately preparing young people for jobs
While Canadian small businesses are facing record-high job vacancy rates and ongoing labour shortages in certain sectors, youth unemployment remains almost twice as high as the national average. Many young people start their careers in small businesses, but more than half of Saskatchewan employers say that high schools do not adequately prepare them for the jobs of today, according to a new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
“There is a clear gap between what employers need and the skills our educational institutions emphasize,” said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB’S senior vice-president of national affairs. “Schools at the secondary and post-secondary level tend to be more focused on preparing youth for higher education instead of work. Too many young people enter the workforce without the critical soft skills employers look for, putting them at a serious disadvantage when they look for that foundational first job.”
Colleges did better at preparing grads for employment; High schools ranked last:
· 43 per cent of Saskatchewan employers (51 per cent nationally) were very or somewhat satisfied with how colleges prepare youth for employment, 20 per cent dissatisfied;
· Just 36 per cent of Saskatchewan employers (37 per cent nationally) were satisfied with how universities prepare their students for a career, 26 per cent dissatisfied; and
· Over 56 per cent of Saskatchewan employers (51 per cent nationally) were dissatisfied with how high schools prepare youth for employment, and only 32 per cent satisfied.
Youth are not adequately prepared for the jobs of today:
CFIB’S report, Hire Education: Connecting youth and small businesses for the jobs of today, recommends that high schools and post-secondary institutions collaborate with the business community to help close the gap by revamping their curriculums to emphasize soft skills like workplace communication, problem solving and networking, and promoting careers in the trades. Connecting youth with the jobs of today:
The perception that careers in the skilled trades are less valuable than white collar work also contributes to the mismatch between the skills young people study and labour market needs.
“Many of our country’s entrepreneurs and job creators are small business owners in the skilled trades,” added Marilyn Braun-pollon, CFIB’S Vicepresident, Prairie & Agri-business. “We shouldn’t stigmatize those jobs and turn young people off from them. Our workforce today and in the future will need tradespeople as much as it needs tech workers and white collar professionals.”
Canada’s educational institutions need to rethink how they approach workplace preparedness in and out of the classroom:
Governments and schools must create more work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities, such as co-ops and internships, especially in sectors experiencing labour shortages. Governments can further improve the accessibility of WIL opportunities and encourage more small businesses to take on inexperienced workers by offsetting the cost of hiring through measures like co-op tax credits or a holiday on Employment Insurance premiums for young employees.
“Helping young people transition into the workforce and connect with meaningful work is an investment in the future of our economy. Governments, schools, employers and young people all have a part to play,” concluded Pohlmann.
Read the report - Hire Education: Connecting youth and small businesses for the jobs of today at https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/en/youthemployment.