Helping Youth Get a Leg Up in the Labour Market: Recommendations to the Expert Panel on Youth Employment

Just as Canada’s youth are diverse and face wide-ranging challenges, Canada’s post-secondary education ecosystem is also diverse, offering a spectrum of solutions in education and training for all learners in Canada. The Panel’s findings must and should differentiate between the solutions that universities, community colleges, and polytechnics offer for young learners and to youth.

Key to the issue of differentiation and the unique solutions polytechnics offer, is our applied, industry aligned, and outcomes based model of education, and our strong commitment to the skilled trades.

Polytechnics and colleges deliver programs and services to support the needs of two broad youth demographics: marginalized or vulnerable youth, also referred to as those “not in employment, education or training,” (NEETs), as well as those who are referred to as “poorly integrated new entrants” (PINEs) to the labour force.  Supports vary for each demographic. 

  • For vulnerable youth, we offer academic bridging programs, direct entry for mature students, and flexible learning models that include year-round full-time programming, hybrid courses delivered on evenings and weekends, and online learning.
  • For students seeking to launch careers, polytechnic education exposes them to both work-based and work-integrated models of learning, ensuring graduates are job-ready on day one.

We urge the Panel to recognize that, as a result of our differentiated model of education, polytechnics are fast becoming “finishing schools” for university students - in 2014/15, 14 percent of our members’ full-time students had already completed a four-year university bachelor’s degree and were enrolled in a graduate certificate, diploma or advanced diploma program – programs that are only open to those with a prior post-secondary credential.

We believe that the Expert Panel has a unique opportunity to make recommendations to the Government of Canada to encompass both policy and program design, as well as advise on areas for increased funding support.

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