GENERAL ARTICLES

Youth and Trade

Industry should co-operate with the school to give youth practical vocational training, says this writer

J. M. PIGOTT May 15 1940
GENERAL ARTICLES

Youth and Trade

Industry should co-operate with the school to give youth practical vocational training, says this writer

J. M. PIGOTT May 15 1940

Youth and Trade

GENERAL ARTICLES

Industry should co-operate with the school to give youth practical vocational training, says this writer

J. M. PIGOTT

THE PROBLEMS of youth in the field of employment have served to focus public attention on our system of education. For the third successive year the Dominion Government has had to assist our provinces in pre-employment courses for young men and women. These courses were planned to make these young people employable. The recent Youth Training Conference held under the auspices of the Department of Labor at Ottawa, at which all provinces were well represented, gave a fairly goxl indication of the size and importance of this work.

this work.

Naturally, thinking men and women are asking why the problem is not being dealt with more intelligently in its early stages. There is, too, a tendency on the part of business and industry to blame the teaching authorities for continuing a system of education so unsuited to our Canadian requirements. On the other hand, the Departments of Education and the teaching profession claim, with some justification, that they are doing the best they can in the absence of co-operation, or even interest, on the part of industry.

Much has been said and written on this subject and there are many interesting approaches to it. That the public is aware that something is being overlooked or neglected is reflected in the various forms of vocational work now engaging the attention of service clubs and welfare institutions, not to mention the organization of youth councils in all jiarts of the country.

In order to deal here as briefly as jxissible with this subject, let us lay down two conclusions that appear to the writer to have been reasonably well established.

(1) Canada, having in mind its youth and prospects, its natural resources and industrial development, needs emphasis on vocational and apprenticeship training.

(2) Our existing vocational and technical facilities languish and miss their pro|x-r function largely through lack of knowledge, on the part of employers, of their purpose and value.

The figures for the different provinces will vary greatly. It is not necessary to examine all. Ontario olfers a suitable example of the misdirection of educational effort, not to mention the waste of public funds.

The system is pretty much the same in all provinces: Primary school to the age of approximately thirteen when, after passing the necessary entrance examinations, the scholars choose either the academic type of education, going on into collegiate courses for approximately five years, or the technical school courses (called sometimes vocational) for three to four years, or the business training courses which last three to four years.

The ultimate objective in the collegiate course is univer-

sity and professional life; the objective in the technical course should be industry, a trade or craft. The expression “should be” is used because, unfortunately, the choice by the student or parents of the technical course is not always due to serious objectives, but rather to a decision that for economic reasons, or doubt of ability to go farther, the professions and a cultural education are given up. The graduate from the business-training course goes into clerical work as secretary, bookkeeper or stenographer.

Out of every ten children who pass these entrance examinations, proportionally 6' go into the collegiate: 2f-> into the technical sch(x>l and one goes to business-training school. Please keep these proportions in mind for. ultimately, we find another set of figures that are very interesting. When these ten young people finally finish their schooling and settle down to the serious business of earning a living, we find that something has gone wrong. Seven of these children are now in industry, two in business and one in a profession.

We agreed that the country needed emphasis on vocational and apprenticeship training. We can see we are not getting it.

Dealing with No. 2—employers neglecting to co-operate with the young ix*ople who do enter vocational school. One third of these students drop out the first year, one third drop out the second year, and the remainder stagger along to the finish, uncertain of what they may finally do. and certainly without any definite employment as a final objective.

We have here two great forces in our national life—the educational force and the employment force. How can

either be blamed for results? The mistake is being made, and the waste taking place, because these two forces should act together in this branch of education, and that is what they are not doing. This situation is not new in the world, but other countries, with much less reason, have moved far along the road.

Canada Lags Badly

WITHOUT quoting from authorities, it can be said that Great Britain’s apprenticeship, trade and vocational schools, which are administered by committees preponderantly industrial, not only direct the education but serve as clearing units of employment, feeding the students into industry.

Germany, since the last war, has been concentrating on practical education. Some five years ago in Munich, for instance, there were approximately twenty-six thousand apprentices whose education was a combination of factory and school.

A pamphlet published by the Board of Education in Britain in 1932, dealing with trade schools on the Continent. concludes an account of a survey as follows: “Pressure of circumstances has produced widespread recognition of the vital importance of a well-trained body of skilled workmen and responsible industrial officers . . . The connection between technical schools and industry is very close. Industry is always very fully represented on the Governing Body, which controls, under the Ministry, the education, equipment and finance of the school . . . The investigation, which concentrated on France. Belgium, Czecho-Slovakia and Holland, brought to light one clear issue. Continental countries direct their main effort to giving a severely practical training to recruits before they enter industry; their full-time pre-employment schools being in effect a part of the industrial rather than the educational system.”

Having in mind the market that is to be supplied—in other words, the kind of national life in which the vast majority of us must do our part and must earn our livelihood—our secondary education should be reorganized. Reforms must be instituted that will provide intelligent practical courses in which industry will contribute full co-operation, if not actual direction. Not only is such reform necessary in the interests of youth, but it is necessary in the interests of employers. Already much is heard of the shortage of skilled men. and the war is rapidly bringing this to the fore. But, even beyond that, trade and commerce is not going to remain unaffected by this war. Canada has to keep her place as one of the great producing and exporting countries in the world, and that “after-war” period is going to make a market for progress, new ideas, youth. Industry’s interest in this problem may yet be the most imjxjrtant interest.

It must not be assumed that an argument is being made

an argument Continued on page 51

Continued from page 18

against culture in favor of mechanics. Perhaps such an argument could be maintained, but that is not the intention of this article. On the contrary, cultural and artistic attainments must be put on a practical basis as well, and require the same thorough study as trade and industrial training. The mistake is made of treating arts and handicrafts as interests of the dilettante; hobbies of the intelligentsia. In these days of increasing leisure . time, and in view of the ever-widening demand for entertainment, amusement and pleasure, these gifts have a definite and growing market. Not only will the arts and crafts go well hand in hand with trade and industrial training, but they will greatly help one another.

The vocational schools that one can easily picture for the future will have that dramatic appeal and excitement that will not only win over students and parents in the proper pro|X)rtions when they have to choose their type of education, but will hold them.

What To Do About It?

A CLOSING paragraph might well be entitled: “Why can’t we do that

here?”

When the traveller enters a new country he seeks the things that are indigenous to that country. The things that excite his interest are the physical evidences of artistry and craftsmanship of the people. People complain of Cuba that there is nothing of the j:>eople—not a scrap that can be taken away even as a souvenir. Mexico is how different! The Indians still turn out their native pottery. their baskets and serajxs, hand-wrought silver, wcxxi inlay, leather. Diego Rivera is one of the most, if not the most, important man in Mexico—a painter of murals.

Glass has been developing apace in recent years. The possibilities in art or stained glass are very great, yet as an industry there is no effort to develop it. England, the United States and Germany are the centres for this work. For fine glassware see the beautiful works of art in glass that Sweden sends around the world. Why can’t we do those things here?

Why should tooled leather come from Italy; our fine china from England and formerly from Czecho-Slovakia and Germany? Who has not seen the works of art, in high glazed china that brings such prices, that come from Copenhagen? Canada is one of the great silver-producing countries of the world, yet see the wonder-

ful designs and perfect craftsmanship that Jensen in Denmark sends to the four corners of the globe. The Lalique glass from Paris, too. Is this not art that pays in a commercial market?

Why should wood inlay work come from Italy; hand-woven rugs from the Balkans and India; iron work from Spain and Sweden; beautiful tiles and ceramics from Italy. France and lately Mexico? One could go on indefinitely.

Our tourist industry is now a matter of first importance. The expenditures by tourists in Canada annually reach three hundred million dollars. What has Canada to offer these good people? Those who have travelled our highways during the summer have seen the stupid, endless display of factory-made mats, factory-made blankets and cheap novelties that are trash in any man’s country. It is a pitiful exhibition. Think what it could and should lx*.

But about all this? When the question is asked, “Why can’t we do those things here?” people shrug their shoulders. They just don’t know how to do such things.

There is a wonderful opportunity to reorganize our vocational training system. It requires as its first essential the full interest and direction of industry and business, assisted by the teaching fraternity and carried out in our existing institutions. One reads everywhere that the fundamental changes to be wrought by the war present to Canada an opportunity that, if seized, will make this country one of the leaders of the world. But we lag badly. We lack creative music, art. dramatic ability, ideas, industrial training and other things. We can present a different picture in a few years, but it means a radical change in our teaching outlook. The arts, crafts, business and industry must be presented to the young in attractive and exciting garments—and employers will have to serve in feeding graduates from training systems into industry.

Two tasks face us. One is for school and industry to work out the profxr type of pre-employment or vocational schools, in the administration of which industry must have the predominant voice.

The other—the serious development of the arts and crafts—must be dealt with from another angle. While largely promotional in its early stages, the work can be covered by the same vocational system. It may require a system of bonusing and government aid but, as in other countries, it will soon stand on its own feet.