What problem are we trying to solve?
It seems simple enough – recent college and university grads finish school and want to transition into good jobs. Industry wants to hire fresh talent in order to maintain a competitive edge in today’s rapidly changing economy. However, things aren’t always as simple as they seem.
As it stands, securing full-time work upon completion of one’s post-secondary education has become increasingly difficult. In the 2010 Colleges Ontario Report, People Without Jobs, Jobs Without People, the problem was framed as a misalignment of supply and demand for skills, particularly in the science-technology-engineering-math (STEM) sectors. The report painted a picture where job seekers do not possess the education or skills for which employers are looking.
While the veracity of the “skills gap” or “skills mismatch” narrative has been increasingly called into question, attention is turning to the “experience gap”. In response to this distinct problem, policymakers, industry and academia have refocused their attention on work-integrated learning (WIL) as an integral part of the solution.
In order to understand the challenges recent grads are facing as they transition from post-secondary education to full-time work, we believe that making the distinction between the skills mismatch problem and the experience mismatch problem is necessary.