Career and life planning in schools
Ontario’s careers policy, Creating Pathways to Success, includes a number of mandatory components, including career and life-planning committees in every school, portfolios for every student from kindergarten to grade 12, and professional development for teachers.
But of the mandatory components in the policy, the report shows that:
- 15% of elementary and 39% of secondary schools have career and life planning committees.
- In only 34% of kindergarten to grade 6, and 56% of secondary schools, do all students have education and career/life planning portfolios.
- 23% of elementary and 40% of secondary schools report professional development on career and life planning is available to their teachers.
Only elementary schools with grades 7 and 8 (where students must choose their high school courses) appear to have had some success implementing career/life planning portfolios. But even in those schools, principals point to the difficulty of implementing the program without guidance counsellors. Only 23% of schools with grades 7 and 8 have guidance counsellors, and even then, most are part time. In high schools – where guidance counsellors provide key support for education, career and life planning – the ratio of students to guidance counsellors averages 380 to 1. In some schools it is as high as 600 to 1.
Among the recommendations in the report:
- Use the Creating Pathways policy, portfolios, and professional development as an anchor for other strategies such as the province’s upcoming Well-being Strategy and the recommendations from Ontario’s Highly Skilled Workforce Expert Panel.
- Link Ontario’s compulsory 40 hours of community involvement for high school students more closely to explorations of career pathways.
- Develop consistent language to link the Creating Pathways portfolios to Ontario report cards.
- Set broader goals for Ontario’s education system – beyond math, reading and writing – to ensure students are acquiring essential skills and competencies demanded by the rapidly changing job market, the knowledge economy, and the increasingly complex global reality.
- Make changes to the funding formula to ensure that students from grade 7 to 12 have adequate access to guidance counsellors.