Education minister Liz Sandals speaks at Churchill Wednesday morning.
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Education Minister Liz Sandals is starting to see some themes emerge as she tours the province.
While Ontario has focused students' attention on core subjects like math and literacy,Sandals said she's hearing from people, including students themselves, that more generic skills need attention too if today's youth are going to be successful in tomorrow's workplace.
"We've had lots of focus on literacy and numeracy but people are saying the graduate of today needs to be a critical thinker, they need to have good communication skills, they need to know how to work as a team," she said in Thunder Bay Wednesday morning while touring Sir Winston Churchill Collegiate and Vocational Institute.
Making sure the education system has resources in place to deal with student mental health issues has also come up a lot, Sandals said.
And there's also a call to make sure that subject matter can be translated outside of the classroom and used in the real world.
"They want the curriculum to be relevant," Sandals said.
Most of the focus is on tackling the province's youth unemployment rate, which sits around 17 per cent and well above the national average. Sandals said some of that number could be because older workers are staying in the workforce longer to try and rebuild retirement savings beaten down by the recession or taking up entry level jobs usually geared towards youth.
"If you have older workers staying there's less opportunity for younger workers," she said. "The younger people are sometimes being crowded out."
Sandals was one of several minsters, including the Premier, across the province Wednesday to announce the Liberal government's Youth Jobs Strategy. The $295 million plan includes partnering with industry to help students build skills, innovation and entrepreneur funds and create more job placements. The government boasts that the programs will help create around 30,000 jobs.
Lakehead School Board student trustee Logan Turner, 17, said the announcement is good news.
Often employers are looking for work experience, which can be tough to get when students are balancing homework and extra-curricular activities already.
"There's not necessarily enough time to have a job as well," the Grade 12 Churchill student said.
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