May 28, 2022


Education and health care are the only items on a provincial budget that will never be cut. There are a variety of reasons for this of course, but the most compelling is simply that Canadians believe wholeheartedly in the importance of both of them.

In terms of education, in addition to actually teaching the next generation, the K-12 system also helps students figure out their lives. It is in essence a flow chart.

For the most part this chart is painless until students reach Grade 8 and have to pick their classes for high school. What this actually means is pick a stream, academic or applied, which teachers suggest based on a students’ ability shown to date. Two years into high school things get more difficult and suddenly there are four streams.

All of this, of course, has two functions – first to decide what a student should do after they get their high school diploma, and second to make every student in the province wish he or she had some kind of magical hat to decide their future for them.

This is where the problem arises, because these streams lead ultimately to one of four places – work straight out of high school, trade apprenticeship, college or university.

According to a 2009 survey conducted by Queen’s University, of the approximately 60 per cent of students who enter post-secondary education more than half go to university. So why does this happen?

As it turns out there are a lot of reasons. Firstly, students are told by virtually everyone that getting a university degree is the best possible thing for a young person’s future. Statistically, this is true. According to a 2011 survey by Statistics Canada, degree holders earned considerably more than college and high school graduates. Unfortunately the prosperity a degree offers has also caused problems.

It is taking university grads longer to find jobs, particularly compared to their college counterparts. Once upon a time universities were places where young people went to open their minds and prepare themselves to be the best possible person. Now they are places to get a piece of paper that allows them to apply for jobs.

What is needed is for the government, school teachers and parents to encourage students to seriously consider college as well. The trades in particular, make great, well-paying careers. Changing this mindset will not be easy but the worthwhile things never are.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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