Are Students Getting Enough Real-Life Work Experience Opportunities?

Closing the Skills Gap Requires Students to get Real-Life Work Experience Early On; Better Partnerships with Schools and Businesses Is Needed

In a tight labor market with an increasing number of job vacancies, employers are facing a growing skills gap. Too many young people are graduating with degrees and skills that don’t match the needs of employers.

An effective way of closing the skills gap is to provide students with real-life work experience before they graduate. Having high school students learn early on about workplace culture, how their educational experience translates into the real world, and what educational disciplines are the most sought, will help ensure students are graduating with the skills and education employers need.

Daniel Purdy, an Express Employment Professionals franchise owner in Abbotsford, British Columbia, understands the importance of having students integrated into the workplace.

“It is imperative that students witness firsthand, and learn early on, how their classroom lessons translate into the workplace,” he said. “Applying new concepts and book knowledge in a practical way will further reinforce the student educational experience and help direct the field of study they choose to pursue.”

In Grand Rapids, Michigan, franchise owner Janis Petrini, agrees.

“Students need to become exposed to actual career options that have potential earlier on,” she said. “Businesses need to start training the workforce that they need.”

Petrini’s team regularly visits local high schools to raise awareness.

“In 2018, we have delivered various presentations to hundreds of participants,” Petrini added. “One of the biggest focuses is always on what are the hot jobs right now and the careers of the future.”

The Grand Rapids office is also part of a local program called “Mayors 100 Business,” for which businesses “commit to hiring at-risk high school students and providing them with internships to get real-life work experience.”

Shane DeCoste, an Express franchise owner in Halifax, Nova Scotia, points out that employers need to provide these opportunities to help solve the skills gap they are facing, too.

“Students need to be exposed to in-demand career options to avoid spending time and resources on a degree only to find it is not relevant to employers in today’s economy,” DeCoste said. “Businesses need to provide opportunities for students so that they can start training the workforce that they need. It is vital that students know the jobs that are in demand right now and will be in the future, so they can make decisions about what degrees to pursue accordingly.”

“Job vacancies continue to rise and the skills gap continues to increase,” said Bill Stoller, CEO of Express. “That means we need to continue drawing people into the workforce that have the skills employers require. Businesses, educators and community leaders need to work together to ensure that students graduate with the education and skills required for the jobs of today and the future.”

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