Note | The Inclusion our Education system needs

On a global scale, governments and businesses face an increasing levels of unemployment and shortage of job seekers with the critical skills required to transition and compete in the job force.  

The key to combating high unemployment among young people globally is forging stronger connections among employers, education providers, and youth themselves to build skills that lead to entry-level jobs in growth sectors. This is not simply the responsibility of the hiring private sectors.  And this is not the current K-12 system.

In our journey exploring a novel solution to this problem, I have hands-on experienced the huge gap that exists between education and employment and can say this for sure -- the current system doesn't work. There is a significant lack of inclusion in terms of the journey from education to employment which is significantly critical in the fundamental stages of early careers, career transitions and elementary youth development. If the system doesn't change, we are simply sustaining our current system of learning and multiplying the unemployment ratio. We are graduating from our universities and colleges, students and learners who do not have the skills to meet the skilled labor demands of employers. The larger percentage of employers have very little interactions with educators. Industries require work skills and hands-on experiences but our educational system isn't designed to provide these work skills to students.

Employers are ready to hire young people but are these young people ready for work? In my experience working closely with youth as an experiential educator and mentor, 2/3 responses received is that their education did not improve their chances of getting a job. This is a huge crisis, because we have ourselves a significant pool of untapped talents resulting in economic and social instability for the government and these young lives. 

How are we designing a system that works? The inclusion that our education needs starts with new form of collaboration. The private sector may afford to take on a quota of this responsibility within their hiring initiatives, however what happens to the 98% others who do not make the cut through the employment process due to lacking the required skills and experiences. Yes, businesses have the responsibility to connect with the educational infrastructure and so does the government. We need all players i.e. government, business, educators and youth to step up and working together to design a free and accessible educational system that works. 

How can our government in Canada step up and join in this global and economic responsibility? How many young people are we talking about in terms of unemployment? And why does this matter to businesses or to governments? Why is this something they should care about urgently?

In the United States, Millennials are the largest and most educated generation, yet many millennials are faced with crushing levels of student debt and, with youth unemployment at 12.8 percent, they can’t find good paying jobs or afford to start their own businesses, according to a recent Millennial Job report. Coming back home to Canada, over the last two years Canada’s economy has created nearly 600,000 jobs yet a recent labor force report by Statistics Canada indicated a large decline in youth employment with a rate at 11.5%.

Policymakers have to realize we can’t tax and regulate our way into job growth, young people will unfortunately continue to be left behind the rest of the economy. It is not enough to cut tax rates for the middle class and create more jobs, fundamental educational development needs inclusion for students and learners to meet the demand of these jobs. This is not the current K-12 system. This is an ambitious approach to life-long experiential skills development and innovation plan. This is a work-integrated learning to closing the gap. The future is now and this should be a next step of action for our government.

For us keep moving forward in creating this novel solution, we require the inclusion of our government i.e. working together