Saskatchewan em­ploy­ers say high schools not adequately pre­par­ing young peo­ple for jobs

The Southwest Booster - - FRONT PAGE -

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 at­ment.

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