My apologies for the slight delay. I went to Centre Block.
I'm glad I'm here, and I am really pleased to have this opportunity to speak to you about experiential learning and what we are currently doing.
We know that investing in work-integrated learning pays off huge dividends in the labour market success of youth. We know that 60% of youth say that on-the-job training and hands-on learning are the most effective instructional techniques, but fewer than half of those youth are actually enrolled in curricula that prioritize this approach.
Getting a foot in the door, or a chance to learn about the profession, is particularly crucial for vulnerable youth who many not have the networks to get that first chance.
Nearly four in 10 recent graduates in Canada take more than three months to land their first job, with one in 10 taking longer than a year. Moreover, perception from industry is that young people exiting post-secondary degrees are not job ready.
Graduates with relevant work experience are ahead of their peers. Data shows that bachelor's level graduates with co-op experience earn more than their peers, have higher employment and full-time employment rates, and are more likely to have paid off debt two years after graduation.
Overall, in Canada, labour market indicators for youth are very positive and compare very favourably internationally. Canadian youth ranked sixth among OECD countries, with an employment rate of 56%, compared to the OECD average of 41%. Canadian youth also ranked first in post-secondary education attainment among OECD countries.
You are looking at experiential learning, and evidence demonstrates that work experience is key to successful transitions for youth. Sixty per cent of post-secondary education, PSE, students say that on-the-job training is the most effective. In fact, enrolment in co-op programs at universities jumped by 25% in less than a decade. University students who graduate from these co-op programs earn $15,000 more than their peers. For college students, this is $8,000 more than their peers. We know that employers are more likely to hire students with work experience: 61% of employers selected graduates who had participated in some form of work-integrated learning in their programs.
Providing experiential learning opportunities is already a key element of our programming for youth.
Career Focus provides wage subsidies to employers and helps close to 7,000 youth obtain work placements.
Last year, Canada Summer Jobs nearly doubled the number of summer jobs for Canadian students, with a total investment of almost $200 million serving more than 65,000 students.
Apprenticeship is another proven model for transitioning into well-paid jobs in demand across the skilled trades: 89% of apprentices who completed apprenticeships held a job related to their trade, and 25,000 apprenticeship grants were issued to youth aged 15 to 24 in 2016-17, representing about $30 million in funding.
Most recently, the government launched a new partnership with industry and PSE institutions to offer work placements for students in STEM and business. This is an investment of $73 million over four years that will create 10,000 new work-integrated learning placements.
This is how it works.
Employers are provided with a maximum of $5,000 in wage subsidies for each new placement created. This amount goes up to a maximum of $7,000 for students in under-represented groups, including women in STEM programs, indigenous students, persons with disabilities, and recent immigrants. We have had overwhelming demand from industry and PSE in the first six months, and we are almost fully subscribed for our first year.
Internships can give young Canadians the hands-on work experience they need to make a successful transition into the workforce. However, some internships—in particular those that are unpaid—can be unfair and exploitative.
Bill C-63 includes amendments to the Canada Labour Code that would prohibit unpaid internships unless they are part of the requirements of an educational program. Unpaid internships that are part of an educational program are covered by labour standard protections.
We also know that not all young Canadians are positioned for success in the same way and that tailored support is needed for vulnerable youth. Indigenous youth are less likely to finish high school at a rate that is three times greater than non-indigenous youth. Also, 26% of youth with disabilities were unemployed, compared to 15% of youth without disabilities. Skills Link, a stream under the youth employment strategy, helps young Canadians with multiple barriers get ready for a job through skills development. Pathways to Education is a program whereby participants from the poorest urban communities across Canada are now having above-average high school graduation rates and entries into post-secondary education.
We also believe that good quality and timely information and advice play an important role to inform career aspirations and support successful transitions.
Job Bank has been enhanced and we will continue to modernize it with current technology platforms to be youth-centred and user-friendly.
The recently launched Labour Market Information Council will focus on timely, consistent, and local labour market information for all Canadians.
Financial assistance is essential to removing barriers to post-secondary education access, and here again we have made some important enhancements. Increased non-repayable Canada student grants are now available to more students in low- and middle-income families. We've introduced the fixed student contribution, allowing students who work to continue to do so without having to worry about a reduction in their levels of financial assistance, and now no student has to repay their Canada student loan until they are earning at least $25,000 per year. This amount is even higher for students with children.
Skills requirements continue to evolve, and credentials don't always represent the skills employers are seeking.
Despite significant investments and overall positive labour market indicators, when internationally compared, too many young Canadians are either not pursuing their education or not getting jobs aligned with their skills and training. Successful transitions from school to work will require more involvement of employers, and this is where increasing efforts on experiential learning and placements to meet the demand across all professions and sectors will be key. There is an opportunity to continue to enhance partnerships with educational institutions and employers. In this way, we get the win-win situation of students getting the experience they need and employers finding the talent they want.
We are exploring some promising practices for approaches that are most effective with particular groups, such as immigrant and refugee youth, indigenous youth, and gender specific youth.
We are in the very early stages of exploring our renewed youth employment strategy, and your study will inform our work. The key areas for action that we are considering include supporting smoother transitions from school to work, supported by quality learning and labour market information as well as work experience opportunities; ensuring that youth develop skills that keep pace with the changing nature of work; providing all youth a fair opportunity to enter the labour market and receive the support they need; and obtaining greater involvement of employers in youth employment.
Thank you for the opportunity to share this information on our work, and now we're happy to answer your questions.