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Next steps for improvement: Identifying the gaps between education and employability in Ontario high schools

The Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) undertook to identify whether there is a skills gap in Ontario, and if so, what particular skills are missing. Through its own unique research, the HRPA has found that various soft skills are missing from the skillset of entry-level workers today, not the hard skills that are easiest for employers to teach. The development of soft skills continues to be a focus of Ontario’s high school curriculum. These skills have been a measurable outcome on report cards since 1998 and are critical to building a competitive workforce for the 21st century. Without a strong foundation of soft skills developed in high school, students have challenges that progress through higher levels of learning and into the workforce. With this in mind, this paper explores whether gaps between the current Ontario high school curriculum and employability may be a root cause of this skills challenge, and whether students are being taught the way employers need them to be taught. It provides quantitative evidence directly from employers that a soft skills gap does indeed exist. Based on this discovery, the paper makes a series of recommendations on how this soft skill gap can be closed.