Navigating Compulsory Career Studies in Times of Local and Global Economic Challenge: A Teacher's Experience in Eastern Ontario
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For some time, youth worldwide have faced high levels of unemployment, up to twice as high as adults in Canada (Quintini, Martin, & Martin, 2007). In an environment proliferated with economic recovery initiatives responding to the global economic downturn that began in 2008 (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2010), navigation towards employment for youth is complex and dynamic. Many rural communities were damaged by the global economic downturn, particularly in eastern Ontario (Jinha, 2009). The value of career education in supporting youth with transition from school-to-work is widely supported (Bell & O’Reilly, 2008). To my knowledge, a teacher’s perspective on teaching compulsory career studies within times of significant economic challenge has remained unexplored. Using two strands of data collection, document analysis was used to describe policies and strategies that comprised the Canadian and Ontario governments’ responses to the global economic downturn and the provincial policy on career education. I undertook interviews with a career studies teacher to document her knowledge of Canadian and Ontario governments’ responses, and how and from where she gained this knowledge. The teacher’s perceptions of challenges faced by career studies students’ when seeking employment, and of what this knowledge contributed to her teaching practice were also reported. The documents revealed that Canadian and Ontario governments’ had responded to the global economic downturn with similar policies and strategies, influenced by future economic security. The Ministry of Education curriculum documents included economy which was linked with the students’ learning and to the expectations of the curriculum. The teacher had limited knowledge of federal and provincial policies and strategies, although she saw connections to the career studies curriculum. The teacher supported her career studies practice through experience gained in a combined role as a teacher of cooperative education and business subjects, and the experience of colleagues. I concluded that the teaching of career studies was influenced by the teacher’s other teaching subjects, and career studies teachers’ need access to appropriate, current resources to meet curriculum expectations. Expanding the program to full-credit status might allow teachers greater flexibility to tailor the career studies program to meet individual students’ needs.