Policy Option 3: Post-Secondary Education recruitment

Goal:

Increase proportion of women entering study and employment in nontraditional fields such as STEM, business, trades, and agriculture by increasing gender targeted recruitment and strengthening career planning strategies.

Key Stakeholders & Decision Makers

  • Provincial Ministers of Labour and Advanced Education, Post-Secondary Education Executives
  • >Universities, Colleges
  • Employers, Provincial Ministers of Labour and Advanced Education,
  • Career Services and Counsellors(secondary and post-secondary institutions),

Resources

Secondary and Post-Secondary institutions should develop career maps for all programs offered. Maps would show courses that direct careers along various different paths. Maps include skills gained in each program and career prospects. Recruitment sessions for potential students would display such maps and be offered to all students regardless of intended field of study.

The Department of Labour and Advanced Education in each province could develop a program evaluation to be conducted each year regarding enrollment statistics in each program at each institution, rates of employment of recent graduates in targeted fields, and demographics of employment.

Challenges:

Annual researches

  • Conducting annual research as to graduate hiring rates and career availability is time consuming and would require additional staffing.
  • Young women typically stray away from non-traditional fields by seventh grade, therefore implementing such recruitment processes will have a delayed effect

Counter-arguments:

  • Such research should be conducted by post-secondary institutions and shared with secondary institutions, a research staffing increase would not be necessary at the secondary level and no added cost to provincial governments

Evidence and Arguments:

Queen’s University is among the few universities that implemented “major maps” outlining skills gained in each major. Maps include tools for career planning based on individual career goals and suggestions of career development to pursue each year for the duration of the degree.

The University of Leverne reported more than 50% of university students pursue majors unrelated to their careers. Introducing career maps early on will better equip students to match their field of study to desired career and develop the skills needed to pursue such a career.

Changing fields of study is expensive and can prolong the length of pursuing a degree.

The University of Leverne reports between 50%-70% of students change their major at least once. This may be caused by lack of adequate career counselling prior to applying to post-secondary institutions.  

Western Kentucky University showed changing majors is one of the top contributors to a delayed degree completion.

Women are often steered away from careers in STEM, trades, business, and agriculture through education and socialization. Women are not given ample information or space to consider such careers regardless of their interests.

A study commissioned by Microsoft found girls often become interested in STEM related fields around the age of 11, however this interest quickly declines at age 15. The socialization process of people toward certain career paths begins  the first few years of attending secondary school. To continue to engage the interest of young women in non-traditional fields, they must be given the opportunity.

Targeted program recruitment could be facilitated by recruitment officers talking about education and career opportunities in nontraditional fields and engaging young women in conversations about their interests, skills, and matching those to such programs.