- Youth Engagement
- Promoting NL
- Quality of Life
- Culture & Diversity
- Incentives to Stay & Return
POLICY DIRECTION 3: ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE, QUALITY EDUCATION
The Provincial Government, young people, partners and communities will work together to create a province of choice in Newfoundland and Labrador. Together...
Help strengthen youth's access to affordable, quality education opportunities by:
- helping ensure that young adults continue to be well-prepared to make informed decisions as they enter the post-secondary education system or the labour market for the first time;
- increasing access to quality educational and training programs to allow them to pursue various career paths throughout their lives; and
- supporting them in their pursuit of their education and training goals, without incurring unreasonable financial student debt.
Priorities and Current Initiatives
Key priorities we need to consider...
- During the Deliberative Dialogue sessions and throughout development of the Strategy, continued access to affordable, quality education options was second only to employment among young people's priorities for retention and attraction.
- It was recognized that the province's continued success will rely strongly on the capacity to maintain and improve education levels. Young people reported that supporting quality of education, particularly at the post-secondary level, with more course choices and a continued focus on our strong education system were key actions to help keep students and young families in the province to learn, work, and live.
- Managing the cost of student participation in post-secondary education is the primary concern of young people. They appreciate that tuition fees in Newfoundland and Labrador are among the lowest in the country and Government's continued efforts to reduce student debt. They also recognized that students acquire debt as a result of other factors such as the costs of living, especially transportation and accommodation for students living away from home. During the Strategy development, it was noted that a lack of preparation for managing their finances also created challenges for some young people related to the cost of education.
- Thus far in 2009, the number of new apprenticeship registrations has decreased by 33% when compared to the same period last year (January to September 2008). These data largely reflect decreasing apprenticeship opportunities as a result of the recent economic downturn.
We have a strong foundation to build on...
- This year, the Provincial Government made record level investments of $1.29B in the K to 12 and post-secondary education systems, including $130.9M for infrastructure investments to strengthen the quality of institutions and schools.
- Government initiatives to address costs of education, including a tuition freeze and student debt reduction initiatives, are among its top priorities. In addition to $5.9 million to maintain the tuition freeze, the Provincial Government invested $5M to eliminate interest on student loans for up to 49,000 people and to increase up-front, non-repayable grants from $70 to $80 a week.
- A significant consideration related to these student debt reduction measures was that they were primarily developed as a result of round table discussions in 2007 and 2009 with students and student leaders and the Department of Education. Interest relief and up-front grants were identified as the top two priorities for young people during these discussions.
The Department of Education has been actively working to ensure students in Newfoundland and Labrador have access to quality education options that prepare them well for transitions to post-secondary training and to work. For example, the White Paper on Public Post-Secondary Education and Skills Task Force recommendations outlined in "All The Skills To Succeed" provide key policy direction with respect to post-secondary education. These documents lay the foundation upon which decisions are developed to prepare students to meed labour demands, including those associated with large scale projects.
- In terms of large scale projects, to date, there has been a 135% increase in the number of individuals registering as apprentices, with 4015 individuals registered as apprentices in Newfoundland and Labrador at the end of 2008.
- As well, the province has seen a 16% increase in the number of Red Seal journeyperson certificates issued, compared to an 8% increase for Canada overall. In 2008, 563 individuals in this province were awarded their Red Seal certification.
- The Department of Education has also been strengthening its supports and services for adult basic education, essential skills, and literacy, including new investments this past summer under the Labour Market Agreement.
- The Department of Education has also been strengthening its supports and services for adult basic education, essential skills,
and literacy, including new investments this past summer under the
Labour Market Agreement.
The Provincial Government maintains strong relationships with its business, labour, and post-secondary partners through the Industry Coordinating Committee, Provincial Apprenticeship and Certification Board, Labour Market Committee and Strategic Partnership. These partnerships help contribute towards ongoing improvements and a more responsive education system.
Actions to Support Youth Retention and Attraction
We will build upon the accomplishments and directions set out by the Skills Task Force to increase access to employment opportunities and supports among apprentices. This includes:
- Expanding the Government Apprenticeship Hiring program to allow for additional apprenticeship placements within Government departments and agencies;
- Expanding the wage subsidy program to serve non-EI eligible apprentices and streamlining existing wage subsidy programs for apprentices;
- Designating staff within the Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment's network of Career Work Centres to actively work with employers to increase their awareness of available employment programs and supports and facilitate their timely access to these resources; and
- Exploring opportunities to increase apprenticeship employment opportunities through measures such as the inclusion of a requirement for contractors to demonstrate a commitment to hiring apprentices on large-scale government construction contracts.
Skills Task Force Accomplishments
Over the past three years, the Skills Task Force has made significant progress on implementing recommendations outlined in its report "All the Skills to Succeed". Specific examples of its accomplishments include:
- the introduction of the Skilled Trades and Technology program in 72 schools with a 153% student enrolment increase (4,140 students) in the past 3 years;
- a significant increase in capacity (almost double) at the College of the North Atlantic with a 70% increase in student enrolments (1,600 students) in 3 years;
- the expansion of in-school apprenticeship training with 3,000 students annually, a 120% increase in 2 years;
- a new agreement with the Government of Alberta to allow NL apprentices (500 to date) to work in Alberta while remaining as a NL apprentice, thereby allowing more apprentices to advance through their apprenticeship programs;
- the introduction of a new government apprenticeship hiring program in 2007 that has supported 110 apprenticeship placements at MUN, Transportation and Works, NL Housing, Health, and School Boards at an annual cost of $1.5 million;
- the establishment of a curriculum and standards unit to support improvements in apprentice completion rates;
- the ongoing development of study and examination guides to support apprentices through to successful examinations;
- additional supports for program evaluations for all apprenticeship programs through the accreditation program;
- the development of individual learning plans for those who had not traditionally participated in the apprenticeship program to provide credit for prior work experience and training to reach certification;
- the elimination of apprenticeship registration and exam writing fees;
- the introduction of a youth apprenticeship program that provides scholarships to high school graduates enrolling in apprenticeship directly from high school; and
- new initiatives introduced with two union groups to promote participation of women in skilled trades, including the Office of Women in Apprenticeship opened through a contract with the Carpenters Union and another contract issued to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to support hiring of women in electrical trades.
- We will increase young people's access to resources for financial literacy and management (e.g. "Economics for Success" program) and raise awareness about the importance of financial planning to achieve their career and life goals. These skills are key building blocks in giving young people the tools necessary for success as they enter adulthood and prepare for further education and the world of work.
In addressing youth priorities for increasing access to affordable, quality educational opportunities, we will also continue to
build upon the significant investments already committed this year to help ensure youth engagement in setting out strategic education
priorities and investments, including those for student debt reduction initiatives.
The provincial awareness campaign will complement ongoing efforts to promote and highlight the benefits of education and pursuing options for training in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Related Recommendations from the Canadian Policy Research Networks
Download the CPRN Report "Making Newfoundland and Labrador a Province of Choice"
- Expand vocational programs in high schools, in particular, dual-credit offerings between high schoolsand colleges that allow students to earn a high school credit and a college vocational program credit at the same time.
- Ensure that those students who stay in the province for their post-secondary education have a high quality experience, through access to up-to-date infrastructure including equipment, laboratories, classrooms, and high quality residences.
- Enhance the capacity of the post-secondary education system to respond to the needs of students and the economy. Government and post-secondary institutions need to continue to work together.
- Ask post-secondary institutions to expand credit transfer processes among them to increase student mobility and retention in the post-secondary education system.
- Implement a graduate student debt forgiveness program for those who stay and work in the province.
- Strengthen the information provided to students on financial literacy and debt management.
Quotes from Youth and Partners
"I feel that I've connected to a lot of like-minded people and that there will be substantial change for the young people of this province. I hope that we get a chance to continue this relationship and make decisions that will directly change many issues, most importantly education (i.e. student debt) and job wages."
"We must get the youth of NL trained and educated with little to no debt so they can work around our shores, our rural centres and our urban centres. Government must continue the progressive measures recently enacted to achieve a high-quality accessible system of post-secondary education available to all, regardless of backgrounds."
"Creating a Province of Choice - A Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy for Newfoundland and Labrador". Available to download in pdf format.