Busi­nesses say high schools are poor at pre­par­ing youth for work­ing world


TORONTO High schools don’t ad­e­quately pre­pare stu­dents for the work­force and they should put more em­pha­sis on teach­ing skills re­quired by em­ploy­ers, the Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Busi­nesses con­cludes.

The CFIB’S “Hire Ed­u­ca­tion” re­port says em­ploy­ers are over­whelm­ingly more in­ter­ested in young em­ploy­ees with good mo­ti­va­tion, at­ti­tude and gen­eral skills like com­mu­ni­ca­tions than in their spe­cific knowl­edge or pre­vi­ous work ex­pe­ri­ence.

But it says only about one-third of busi­nesses sur­veyed in­di­cated they were sat­is­fied with the job that high schools were do­ing, com­pared with 53 per cent who were dis­sat­is­fied and 15 per cent who didn’t know.

Com­mu­nity col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties ranked higher in sat­is­fac­tion at 51 per cent and 37 per cent, re­spec­tively, and lower in dis­sat­is­fac­tion at 25 per cent and 26 per cent.

Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB’S se­nior vice-pres­i­dent of na­tional af­fairs, said Thurs­day she hopes gov­ern­ments, schools and busi­nesses get more in­volved in co-op and work-in­te­grated learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for youth.

“Our mem­bers who use them find them to be re­ally good and … of­ten end up hir­ing those peo­ple,” Pohlmann said in an in­ter­view.

She said there’s more em­pha­sis on pre­par­ing high school stu­dents for post-se­condary ed­u­ca­tion — rather than a trade or other type of jobs that need to be filled.

“Part of this is def­i­nitely fam­ily pres­sures on the young per­son, as well, in terms of what their ex­pec­ta­tions are. …. But well-pay­ing jobs come in many dif­fer­ent forms. They don’t nec­es­sar­ily come in white-col­lar jobs.”

Gov­ern­ments are also part of the prob­lem, she said, be­cause they ’ve fo­cused heav­ily on the “jobs of to­mor­row” and knowl­edge jobs and less on the trades — such as elec­tri­cal, plumb­ing and metal work — that can also be lu­cra­tive.

“Es­pe­cially if you can build your own busi­ness out of it. I think that’s of­ten over­looked as a po­ten­tial op­tion for many young peo­ple to­day,” Pohlmann said

The CFIB’S 29-page re­port con­tains more than two dozen rec­om­men­da­tions, about half to gov­ern­ment and ed­u­ca­tors but also to youth and small busi­nesses.

How­ever, the re­port doesn’t go so far as to ad­vo­cate more use of so­cial me­dia or mar­ket­ing, a rec­om­men­da­tion of the Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Bank of Canada — a fed­eral Crown cor­po­ra­tion fo­cused on small- and mid-sized busi­nesses.

The CFIB study found em­ploy­ers were less likely than youth to use on­line job boards such as Workopo­lis and In­deed or so­cial me­dia such as Face­book, Twit­ter and Linkedin. Em­ploy­ers were also less likely than young job seek­ers to rely on in­tern­ships, “help wanted” signs and school job fairs.

CFIB’S re­port is based partly on an on­line sur­vey of 6,398 small busi­ness own­ers con­ducted in May and June and partly on an Maru/match­box on­line sur­vey of 513 Cana­di­ans (340 aged 18-24 and 173 aged 15-17) con­ducted May 25 to 29.


A re­port by the CFIB says gov­ern­ments are too fo­cused on ‘jobs of to­mor­row’ at the ex­pense of skilled trades.

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