Canadian Alliance of Student Associations – Investing in Transitioning Post-Secondary Students into the Workforce

Canada’s youth, post-secondary students, and recent graduates face significant obstacles in their efforts to transition into the workplace. Unemployment and under- employment among these groups remain stubbornly high. This is particularly problematic for underrepresented and marginalized youth. Student debt has also risen steadily in recent years, putting more pressure on students to find work that draws on their skills and experiences, while also allowing them to meet pressing financial responsibilities.

Youth who are educated and have relevant qualifications, but who have difficulties integrating into the labour force, are sometimes called Poorly Integrated New Entrants (PINEs). PINEs find themselves moving frequently between temporary jobs or unemployment, even when the economy is growing. The Canadian Career Development Foundation has made several recommendations for addressing this issue. Key recommendations include a well-advertised national strategy to help youth transition from school to work, better access for youth to work experience and career training, research on PINEs and employer consultation efforts.

For those youth and recent graduates who do manage to enter the workforce, a growing concern is a general decline in training opportunities offered by Canadian employers. Canadian employers spend about 64 cents on the dollar on training compared to employers in the United States, and in recent years their spending on employee development has declined by about 40%. For new entrants into the working world, this means fewer opportunities for those at the outset of their career, as well as less money for programs and training opportunities specifically targeted at students and recent graduates, including paid internships.

Based on these concerns and challenges, CASA recommends the following strategies and policies to facilitate the successful transition of Canada’s youth into meaningful and remu- nerative employment:

  • A provincial roundtable to discuss best practices on the issues of youth unem- ployment, underemployment and unpaid internships. Provincial and federal coop- eration should be encouraged on these issues.
  • The federal government adopt the Canadian Career Development Foundation’s 8 recommendations to support “Poorly Integrated New Entrants” (PINEs).
  • The federal government invest in programs and implement strategies that connect disadvantaged and marginalized youth with employers and the labour market. Among other programs and strategies, this could include youth employment outreach efforts, linking youth with career training services, establishing grants and incentives for employers to hire marginalized youth and adapt the workplace to accommodate youth with special needs, educating businesses and employers on diversity and accommodation and surveying employers on how to retain marginal- ized and disadvantaged youth.
  • A comprehensive study by the Senate of Canada on the issue of unpaid internships in Canada.
  • Expanded investment in the Post-Secondary Industry Partnership and Co-operative Placement Initiative. This program was announced in 2016 with the goal of supporting experiential learning opportunities, such as co-ops, for students in STEM and business fields. While a positive step, expanding this program across disciplines and programs is essential to supporting all post-secondary students.
  • A federal Canada Training Incentive, modeled after Quebec’s training requirement program, to address the ‘employer training gap’ issue by incentivizing large employers to commit a minimum percentage of resources to training initiative and opportunities. Training opportunities covered by this program should include those designed specifically to support students and recent graduates, including co-ops, paid internships and research collaborations.
  • Creation and support of more partnership programs between graduate students and private or public sector groups to engage in collaborative research across elds of study.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Policy Paper: Student (Un)Employment in Canada – Canadian Alliance of Student Associations


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