Opinion » Editorial


Take a chance on youth



Forgive me if I leave behind issues around accountability, the shaming of the Vancouver rioters and tourism for a moment to focus on our youth.

This week sees the "graduation" of Grade 7s from our elementary schools. Whistler Secondary grads have already walked their red carpet and been fĂȘted.

And while no doubt there is great excitement at the achievements of all the youths many parents, such as myself, are anxious about what the future holds for our children.

At the elementary level this is translating into conversations about sending children away to boarding schools. These conversations are not about privilege, they are about sacrifice - parents are seriously considering giving up time with their kids for any perceived edge it may give the youths when it is time to apply to post-secondary education or get out into the world and secure meaningful work.

For years there has been interest in a private school in Pemberton, as first a GEMS establishment, but now another such venture yet to be named is on the planning table.

Recently we have learned a private educational facility, Coast Mountain School, is looking to open at the Quest University campus in Squamish.

For all the years I have lived in Whistler and had kids there have been these types of conversations but in the last few years the dialogue has moved away from a kind of "silver-spoon" approach to tactical planning.

After all, to get into the University of British Columbia arts program in 2010 you needed an 84 per cent average. According to an information letter sent to parents and kids about to enter Whistler Secondary, the school consistently outperforms the rest of the province in Provincial Exams. The last stats available (2009) show that there is a 98 per cent graduation rate. Over 50 per cent of students from that class are in universities or colleges compared to a provincial average of 12 per cent. This year at Whistler Secondary kids with an 85 per cent average over Grade 11 and 12 didn't even make it into the top quarter of the grad class, the academic standing was so high.

But the concern for the future of our youth is not misplaced. As we celebrate Canada Day we are also celebrating the opportunities the country affords its residents but on the youth front it appears a lot more opportunity is needed.

There is a growing push to have Canada take a second look at its Youth Employment Strategy to help young workers prepare for the labour market or support further education.

Currently, the federal government invests almost $340 million each year in the Youth Employment Strategy, which was designed to assist Canadians aged 15 to 30 with skills development and finding a job.

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