Title: Young People's Attitudes Toward the World
of Work in Three Canadian Labour Markets
The purpose of the study was to examine the attitudes of young people soon to enter the work force in three distinct Canadian labour markets. In addition, the relationship between gender and work related opinions was also investigated. The instrument consisted of four subscales taken from a questionnaire adapted and developed in the United Kingdom 16-19 Adolescent Identity Formation Initiative and two subscales taken from the Attitude Toward the World of Work Index. The instrument was administered to 923 senior high school students in Newfoundland, Ontario, and British Columbia. Significant differences were obtained for both group and gender on the variables attitude toward training for new technology, belief in work, and job security. For self-efficacy and locus of control significant gender differences were found.*
* The authors would like to express their deep appreciation to Dr. Willis Jacobs, Mr. Kevin Lydon, Mr. William Roddy, Mr. Yvon Labossiere and Ms. Robyn Meagher for their assistance in the administration of the questionnaire and entry of the data.
The period of transition from school to work is considered to be an important stage in the identity formation of adolescents as they approach adulthood. Research studies in the eighties have indicated that adolescents are indeed monitoring the adult world, developing work perspectives, and acting upon them. (Amundson & Borgen, 1982; Feather, 1985; Santilli & Furth, 1987; Breakwell & Fife-Shaw, 1987). However, with major transformations now occurring in the educational system and labour market, a limited understanding of how adolescents perceive these changes hinders educators in helping young people formulate effective strategies for coping with the transition. Students preparing to leave high school today face an increased number of barriers to career establishment than they did even five years ago.
In addition, recent national reports have also suggested that there is room for improvement in the way young people are prepared for entry into the workforce. (Department of Employment and Immigration, 1989; Canadian Labour Market and Productivity Centre, 1990; Government of Canada, 1991). These documents call for fresh policies and concrete initiatives that can help young people make better use of their educational opportunities as they prepare themselves for the workplace. In particular, a recurring theme prevalent in the documents is that more must be done to make the transition from school to work less problematic and more efficient.
As Lewko (1987, p. 1) purports, "We know very little about the views young people hold regarding the world of work and the way in which these views are shaped or how they influence behavior". Some researches, however, have suggested that factors such as parental work, attitudes towards new technology, perceptions of unemployment, and, of interest in this study, community wide economic conditions all play a role in the decision making process of adolescents as they move into the workforce.