____Posted Thursday June 8 2017 ____

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Failing Grade

Ontario High Schools Must Improve in Preparing Entry-Level Workers for Today's Jobs says HRPA

As summer vacation approaches, a new report released by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) shows Ontario's high schools are failing to provide students with the foundational soft skills required to succeed in their future entry-level jobs. In fact, 42 per cent of respondents in a unique survey of the human resources (HR) professionals across Ontario said that entry-level workers are insufficiently prepared for that role because they do not have the soft skills necessary.

"When we asked HR Professionals to identify what skills are missing from entry-level workers, the top five were all soft skills," said Bill Greenhalgh, CEO, HRPA. "Problem solving, attention to detail, teamwork, these are the skills that our new hires are missing today in Ontario. These are foundational skills that students should be learning in high school and ones that are critical to succeeding in entry-level jobs."

While Ontario's secondary education system is designed to prepare students for the next stage of learning rather than to teach them how to join the workforce, the HRPA argues that needs of employers should not be overlooked.

"The single greatest feedback from HR Professionals called for students to be given greater experiential learning opportunities," said Greenhalgh, "and we must do more to create those opportunities. According to our research, more than one out of every three businesses is waiting to be asked to participate in a high school co-op or experiential learning opportunity," he concluded.

The new paper, entitled "Next Steps for Improvement: Identifying the Gaps between Education and Employability in Ontario High Schools," makes a series of recommendations to government and industry to ensure students are better prepared to enter the workforce. These recommendations include making co-op programs mandatory courses and offering incentives to attract more businesses to participate in experiential learning opportunities.

"The good news is there are ways to improve," Greenhalgh concluded. "Almost three quarters of respondents said high school curriculum changes could help students gain the specific skills that are missing. These changes would ensure our young people succeed and Ontario's economy becomes even more competitive in the 21st century economy."

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