Bridging the school to work transition

Young people have a big stake in shaping our future and they have the ambition to do so. But 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, what’s broken, and how could it be better?

The current employment landscape can be a challenging one for recent graduates in Canada.

We see the statistics every day. The pressures of automation, the gig economy and a reduction in entry-level jobs are being added to the fact that young people aren’t leaving school prepared with the skills, experience, or the networks to help them successfully start their careers.

According to Stats Can, finding a full-time, quality job is increasingly difficult: youth employment rates are similar today to that of the 1970s, but job quality has deteriorated for many young people.

Providing work-integrated learning, co-ops, internships and summer opportunities are just some of the ways schools and employers can partner to help young Canadians prepare for the new world of work and break the "no experience, no job" cycle they so often feel trapped in.

Young people want to be a part of the solution

A recent whitepaper, Addressing the Catch 22, 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, 99% of the new grads said they had a least one prior work experience and 93% 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, but they lack relevant work experience because no organization will take a leap of faith and hire them. Recent graduates are doing what they can to prepare to enter the labour market, but that they can’t change the hiring practices of employers.

A call for collaboration from young people

These young people and new grads had lots of ideas about what could be done to help:

  • Collaboration – They are calling for more collaboration among business, schools, governments as well as young people to address and support the transition from education to employment.

  • Increased work experience opportunities – Young people feel that increased access to work integrated learning (WIL), as well as pre and post graduate work experiences and the creation of other entry level roles, would help them gain the necessary skills and experience for the 21st century workforce.

  • Better Connections – Young people know the value of a strong network. They are looking for solutions that will enable them to readily connect with those already in the labour market – employers, employees, and professional associations.

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The new grads in this study are sending a very clear message – they want solutions. We have a responsibility 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 and create opportunities that allow them to prove themselves.

We know that young Canadians face challenges as they transition from school to work. We also have the power to create programming and solutions that offer the education, training and work experience that can be pivotal in a young person’s life – setting the stage for future success and that’s good for all Canadians and our nation’s prosperity.


If you would like to learn more about RBC’s Launching Careers Playbook and how your institution can help bridge the gap between the school to work transition, get in touch with RBC today.

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