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The Path Less Travelled: Improving vocational education in BC

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Schools are the primary government institution that prepares youth for adulthood in BC. Whether youth move on to postsecondary education or employment after secondary school, it is expected that the school system prepare youth for the next stage of their lives. This study finds that a significant population of British Columbian youth struggle to find steady employment or complete a postsecondary education program after leaving secondary school. The secondary school system poorly prepares students for non-academic postsecondary education and employment. This study describes BC’s population that struggles to transition from secondary school into education or employment, and explores the social and educational factors that lead to strong employment outcomes in adulthood. The secondary school-based vocational educational system and youth employment outcomes of British Columbia are compared with those of Australia, Germany, and Switzerland. Four policy options are considered to expand connections between secondary schools, employers, and postsecondary institutions. It is recommended that British Columbia expand its current suite of vocational education programs through a grant to school districts, and that it expands the occupational fields with training certified by the Industry Training Authority. These options are determined to best connect youth to existing support structures and expand the types of occupational training youth may participate in while in secondary school.
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