School retention is an issue that rallies the local business community. Why? We asked a number of businesses that very question. Two ideas emerged. First, they have a vested interest in ensuring they have a skilled succession, particularly given that, in Québec, 1,372,200 positions will need to be filled between 2015 and 2024, 650,500 of them between 2020 and 2024. Second, they want to make a difference in the lives of young people and get involved in their community.
Provide for the future
According to Emploi Québec statistics, Montréal is the city with the highest demand for labour for 2015 to 2019; the city accounts for 19% of total demand in Québec. If we take into account suburban Montréal, this percentage rises to 44%. What will happen in 2020-2024? Despite the absence of statistics for that period, it is pretty clear Montréal will continue to experience the strongest demand.
Another interesting piece of data from Emploi Québec is that young people will represent 56% of the labour force from 2015 to 2024. This statistic shows the importance of counting on younger generations that will hold jobs and intervening early to ensure they complete their education. This is what the regional consulting authorities on student retention and educational success (the Instances régionales de concertation sur la persévérance scolaire et la réussite éducative du Québec) points out: “to ensure the success of a skilled succession, everyone needs to talk about and get involved in school retention; the future and development of the regions and the province depend upon it.”
Corporate programs to make young people aware of their sector, partnerships with organizations and on projects for training labour and school retention, awareness-raising in schools… There is no shortage of initiatives, given the wide variety of players getting involved.
Take the example of Belairdirect. According to Rémi Vuong, Talent Acquisition Strategic Consultant, Human Resources, “our company is aware of the succession needs in the insurance industry and feels responsible for encouraging young people to continue their studies.” This is why Belairdirect has partnered with two organizations: Academos, which gives young people aged 14 to 30 a taste of the working world, and Montréal Relève, an expert in preparing the succession and labour force. The company’s involvement took the form of:
- its employees mentoring more than 50,000 young people in Québec through the Academos platform. They explain their job to young people who are thinking about what to do with their future.
- participating in the career exploration program Student Business, from Montréal Relève. Every summer, a team of 15 professionals hosts 40 young people for 35-hour exploratory internships. Since 2014, over 90 young people have taken part.
According to Belairdirect, these programs can make a real difference in an education, by increasing the confidence of students in difficulty and encouraging them to pursue higher learning or professional training.
Another example is Université de Montréal (UdeM), which through its L’extension project supports the development of children in difficulty in Parc-Extension. It offers remedial education services, which involve identifying problems school children are having with knowledge, strategies and cognitive processes, mainly in reading, writing and math. According to Mona Saint-Germain, a teacher in Parc-Extension, “the centre fosters success in school and children’s health.” Progress and greater self-confidence are behind that success.
An interesting aspect of this model is that UdeM students volunteer for internships at the centre. Supervised by professors, they give participating children free dental and vision care. The program benefits both the students and the community.
A final example is the YMCAs of Québec. The organization has developed a number of services that address the many challenges to a successful education. One of these is the YMCA Alternative Suspension. This program is geared for students who have been suspended and attempts to prevent them from dropping out of school by working on behavioural problems that lead to suspension, in partnership with schools and school boards. The program is the result of close cooperation between parents, teachers and principals from over 100 schools and 11 school boards in Québec as well as the Cree Nation in Northern Québec.
Generally, as soon as a discussion on school retention gets started, many companies express their desire to get involved, like David Barabé, co-founder of DIX au carré: “This cause is important to me. I know that some young people lack the means and resources to succeed in school or wonder where they fit in the school system. I also want to look at the opportunities for action at my level.”
School retention is one of Québec’s regional priorities. Efforts in the area have had encouraging results: the drop-out rate in Montréal declined from 24.6% in 2009 to 20.8% in 2014. Let’s keep up the momentum!
Do you want to make a difference in a young person’s life? Do you need inspiration? Companies such as Cirque du Soleil, SNC-Lavalin and Arani will share their experience soon. Stay tuned!