The elimination of the Ontario Academic Credit (OAC - Grade 13) by former Conservative Premier of Ontario Mike Harris was a huge mistake that students are still paying for today.
Grade 13 was abolished in 1995 by the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Some 40 per cent of students in Ontario high schools dropped out during the four years that the Conservatives spent phasing out Grade 13.
Meanwhile, since the disappearance of the fifth year of high school, students today are more anxious and stressed when applying to university at the age of 17.
Some studies have shown that almost
50 per cent of Ontario university students changed their major after the first year, again proving the fifth year of high school is essential.
It is apparent that 17 is too young for a student to decide which university programs they want to apply to or even the career path they wish to pursue. Students need that extra year to mature and discover who they are and what they want to become.
The former Government of Ontario under Conservative Premier Mike Harris ostensibly eliminated Grade 13 as part of 'cost savings' - when in reality it was about pandering to the petty minded, selfish and revanchist instincts of their grassroots voting base of so-called 'blue collar conservatives' - who had a visceral contempt for teachers, university professors, post-secondary education, white collar professionals, the poor, those on welfare and disability, the homeless, old money blue blood Red Tories in the Ontario PC Party and organic societal hierarchy in general. An overall climate of anti-intellectualism, anti-education, and hostility to the then embryonic hi-tech knowledge economy we know today also played a big role in the elimination of Grade 13.
Back in 1995, when the lion's share of available jobs were still so-called 'old economy' jobs in manufacturing, natural resource extraction, steel, automobiles,
farming, retail, and other professions which did not typically require a university degree - it may have made sense - at least to some at the time - to eliminate Grade 13 - although it was a very foolish and shortsighted thing to do. However, in 2017, with the reality of an interconnected and interdependent global economy - which primarily produces highly competitive jobs in IT, healthcare, social media, online retail, higher education, coding, renewable energy, telecommunications, ect; a university degree is increasingly a requirement.
Many human resources departments in large global corporations incresingly will not even consider job applicants who do not possess a university degree - even if it is in an irrelevant or unrelated discipline.
Earning a university degree in history
or women's studies may not be at all
relevant to working for an online retailer
or even as a Starbucks barista - but it
does show HR departments that the applicant has discipline and focus - and
that is why a university degree is incresingly a basic requirement for many entry level jobs now.
I know for a fact that most Canadian cell phone and Internet companies will not only not hire ANYONE for ANY job who does not possess a university degree -
but are increasingly eliminating those who have been with the company for years and who do not have a university degree.
Even managers in such telecommunication companies who meet their annual targets in sales and operations are still passed over for promotion if they do not have a university degree.
I believe that bringing back Grade 13 - with an emphasis on university preparation as well as basic coding, organizational, time management,
interpersonal, group dynamics,
and other job skills required for the
jobs of tomorrow in the knowledge
economy would be an excellent
investment for the Government of
Ontario to make in our youth.