Calling for Collaboration: Putting the voice of youth at the centre to help solve the school to work transition

Toronto, ON

A new whitepaper, Addressing the Catch 22: RBC Career Launch Applicants Recommendations for Improving School-to-Work Transitions, published by RBC in partnership with the Canadian Career Development Foundation reveals that recent grads in Canada want to be part of the solution but they are calling for more support and collaboration from business, schools and government to help them reach their full potential as they transition from school to work.

According to the study based on more than 1,350 applications randomly selected from the approximately 5,800 that RBC has received since the start of the Career Launch Program, 99 percent of the new grads said they had at least one prior work experience and 93 percent said they had at least one volunteer experience.

Yet they still felt caught in the Catch-22 – known as the ‘no experience, no job cycle’. They said they aren’t being hired because they lack relevant work experience, and they lack relevant work experience because no organization will hire them. They report doing what they can to prepare to enter the labour market, but that they can’t change the hiring practices of employers.

They called for solutions that focus on:

  • Collaboration – More collaboration among business, schools, governments and young people to address and support transitions from education to employment
  • Increased work experience opportunities – Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and pre and post graduate work experience as well as other entry level roles
  • Better Connections – Connecting with those already in the labour market – employers, workers, and professional associations

“This unique study puts the voice of these young people at the centre of the school-to-work transition conversation,” says Donnalee Bell, lead researcher and managing director, Canadian Career Development Foundation. “New grads in this study are sending a very clear message – they want solutions. The time is now to work together to figure out how to address this challenge with viable solutions that involve all stakeholders, including young people. We need to make changes that result in young people being better prepared for work.”

The young people who were a part of this study also called for greater career education and transition support including mandatory career education in public and post-secondary schools as well as greater awareness and connection to the skill demands and trends in the labour market. They identified student debt as being a restrictive burden that impacts their employment choices. They also said debt creates competitive disadvantages such as the acceptance of underemployment for the sake of a paycheque.

“Young Canadians face challenges as they transition from school to work. We know that education, training and work experience are pivotal in a young person’s life – setting the stage for future success and that’s good for all of us,” says Zabeen Hirji, chief human resources officer, RBC. “I’m inspired by the solution-oriented mindset of the young people who were the focus of our study. We believe young people have a significant stake in shaping our future and know they have the ambition to do so.”

“We are bringing forward the voice of youth in this research as a way of stimulating very important conversations about the future of young people,” says Susan Uchida, vice-president, learning, RBC. “We need to engage them, delve deeper into both their shared and individual experiences and keep asking them the question – What is transitioning from school to work really like, and how could it be better?”

The young people in this study were not sitting back expecting others to solve these challenges. They talked of the role of youth and advised their peers to:

  • Get “experienced”
  • Stay positive
  • Be resilient
  • Keep your expectations in check and be open minded about opportunities

Click here to read: Addressing the Catch 22: RBC Career Launch Applicants Recommendations for Improving School-to-Work Transitions.