Editor, The Times:
Canadian post-secondary education needs an update.
As a student at Thompson Rivers University, I became extremely concerned with the number of graduates I saw struggling to find more than part-time work or resorting to accepting positions for which they didn’t need an education.
Many students are graduating and ending up under-employed, without the necessary skills for the jobs available.
The problems are that some degrees aren’t supplying the skills employers are seeking, employers aren’t willing to invest in training new workers and students are being funnelled into occupations that are just not in demand.
Many studies provide students with skills that aren’t useful in the labour market, such as philosophy, history and English.
These are important skills to have but, standing alone, they don’t relate to many professions.
This results in a mismatch of skills, causing many employers to turn to foreign workers to fill positions while graduates go under-employed.
Employers want workers with experience, but simply aren’t investing enough in training and apprenticeships.
According to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, 80 per cent of employers who use skilled workers don’t offer apprenticeships.
Many students are struggling as they are graduating into professions not in demand.
The UBC website notes that, in 2010, approximately 2,700 new teachers were certified in British Columbia, while only 1,500 positions opened up.
The labour market is changing and the way youth are educated isn’t keeping up.
Schools need to use relevant labour-market information to direct students into professions in demand and provide the specific skills for those positions.
Many employers argue they don’t have the resources to offer apprenticeships or training but, what if there were more programs in place?
Canadian schools, with the support of employers and the government, can create programs that emphasize combining education with experience to prepare students for a career in demand.
Switzerland has adopted this system and is considered to have the best education system in the world.