The current research project is composed of two main elements: an environmental scan of post-secondary work and learning opportunities in New Brunswick, and the gathering and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data related to post-secondary students’, and employers’ participation in and opinions about work and learning opportunities. The data was gathered using online surveys addressed to post-secondary students and employers throughout the province, as well as focus groups and interviews conducted with a small sample of students, work and learning program coordinators, and employers.
The environmental scan was conducted with the purpose of creating an inventory of the work and learning opportunities currently available to post-secondary students in New Brunswick. No such inventory was previously available, and the environmental scan in itself constitutes a valuable tool for students, parents, academic institutions, and employers by providing detailed information about post-secondary work and learning opportunities in New Brunswick. Descriptions of each program, including a list of required qualifications, contact information and links to available and relevant websites were gathered and compiled. The resulting inventory of 353 post-secondary work and learning programs is described in the Environmental Scan Report, which can be found in Appendix A. Please note that the complete environmental scan can be obtained by contacting the New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training, and Labour.
A decision was also made during the early stages of this research and analysis project to focus primarily on non- compulsory work and learning programs. It was felt that programs in which internships, work placements, etc., were compulsory and integral to the completion of the credential, such as Education and Nursing, were less relevant to this study than voluntary work and learning programs where students and employers made a deliberate choice to participate.
In consultation with the survey’s funding partners, the research team developed two surveys: one aimed at students enrolled in a post-secondary institution within New Brunswick; and one directed at New Brunswick employers, most of whom were members of the Enterprise Network.
The Student Survey, attached as Appendix B, was designed to gather information about post-secondary students’ knowledge and attitudes about work and learning opportunities in New Brunswick. Students who had experience with such programs were questioned further about their most recent experience. The survey was also translated into French for distribution among the French- speaking student population.
An initial version of the survey was tested with a group of Anglophone and a group of Francophone university students who were asked to provide the research team with feedback about the questions. A final version of the survey was developed based on the comments gathered during those sessions and uploaded to an online survey program (WebSuveyor).
An email was sent at the end of March 2007 the University of New Brunswick, Université de Moncton, Mount Allison University, St. Thomas University, and the New Brunswick Community College/Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (NBCC/CCNB) network inviting all students to participate in the online survey. As an incentive, participating students were offered a chance to win one of five $100 prizes. A total of 26,205 email invitations were sent, as described in Table 1.