The future of work is now. That should be the guiding principle for a B.C. secondary school system that needs to provide road maps to meaningful work for its clientele.
Today’s future of work looks grim. Statistics Canada employment numbers released May 8 were staggeringly bad. The two million jobs lost in April were the most for the country in any major economic downturn.
Job losses in the United States were 10 times worse.
The bad news was not unexpected. The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down industries and economies all over the world, and employment for younger workers has been seriously damaged.
Immediately prior to the release of employment numbers earlier this month, a Business Council of BC blog pointed out that all job growth recorded since the 2008-09 Great Recession for the 15-to 24-year-old demographic had been wiped out in a matter of weeks.
There is no sign from this vantage point that the job market for that demographic will rebound once the worst of the pandemic has passed.
The nature of work in many sectors will never be the same.
That change, while difficult in the short term, will create new opportunities, especially for upcoming generations, but only if they know what their core strengths are best suited for. That’s where the public school system needs to invest more of its resources: providing guidance on where individual student skills could be best applied in the job market.
Many high school graduates would be better served by enrolling in trades or technical training for careers that fill job market demand than by pursuing a university education.
No one knows where work will be in five years, but schools should be working with the best data available to make the most educated guesses on where it is likely headed so that Canada’s younger generations are given the best chance to apply their skills in a field where they can excel and where the economy needs them most.