Canada's Youth Need Better Career Planning Support: Provinces and Territories Urged to Implement Comprehensive Career Development Strategy



    OTTAWA, Sept. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - As young people head back to class this
week, a major study released today by CanadianPolicy Research Networks says
they lack the help they need to identify and navigate learning pathways that
lead to good jobs. The CPRN report urges action by all provinces and
territories to implement a career development strategy for all young
Canadians.
    Pathways for Youth to the Labour Market: A Synthesis Report summarizes
the findings of eight CPRN studies carried out over the past two years on the
school-to-work transition and identifies the policy implications of this
research.
    The report notes the traditional straight-line path from school to work
has given way to a non-linear path that sees young people "zigzag" between
schooling and work as they seek to find their way. Students are taking longer
to complete their education and become established in the workforce.
    A key finding is that career development programs and services can reduce
dropout rates, increase aspirations and achievement, help people find jobs
that match their talents and interests and help employers meet skill needs.
The best programs, CPRN says, begin early (by grade six) and combine several
elements:

    
    - information about career opportunities and the learning paths needed to
      attain them;
    - developing skills about how to analyze this information and deal with
      changes both in job prospects and in personal interests;
    - co-op learning opportunities; and
    - the engagement of parents and employers in students' career-planning
      activities.
    

    "The research shows that career development services in most provinces
lack the needed scope and are out of sync," says Sharon Manson Singer,
President of CPRN. "Provincial and territorial governments are not doing
enough to identify, sustain and spread effective practices. These services are
critical, especially if young people are to have the chance to pursue the
education and skills training opportunities they need to build successful
careers."
    The research also shows the importance of choice in the high school
curriculum. Case studies of efforts to strengthen vocational options in high
school indicate that such programs have had success in reducing the high
school dropout rate and increasing participation in post-secondary education.
To avoid prematurely streaming students, building bridges between academic and
vocational options is needed, so that students who start on one path are able
to switch to another.
    Provinces and territories are attempting to revitalize the vocational
curriculum in high schools and to strengthen partnerships between schools,
post-secondary institutions and employers. However, in most provinces, there
has been limited coordination and unreliable funding, resulting in limited
take up of these programs.
    "The provinces and territories should make a more systematic effort to
identify successful practices and share results across Canada," says Ron
Saunders, CPRN Vice-President of Research and author of the report. "They
should provide the funding to sustain such practices locally and to facilitate
their adoption across the province or territory."
    The CPRN report notes that better bridges between post-secondary programs
and institutions are required, since many young Canadians will inevitably be
uncertain about their own talents and interests, and what employers are
looking for will inevitably be subject to change and uncertainty. In addition,
formal evaluation of career pathways programs is scarce.
    The Pathways for Youth to the Labour Market project involved eight
studies published over the period 2006 to 2008. The work focused on a
quantitative analysis of the learning paths being taken by our youth and the
labour market outcomes associated with different paths as well as a
qualitative analysis of government policies and career development practices
in our schools, including case studies of promising programs.
    To read or download a copy of Pathways for Youth to the Labour Market: A
Synthesis Report, visit www.cprn.org.




For further information:

For further information: Ron Saunders, Vice-President Research, CPRN,
(416) 489-3380, Cell: (416) 801-6385, rsaunders@cprn.org

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CANADIAN POLICY RESEARCH NETWORKS

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