Preparing students for the transition from college to work /
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The purpose of this study was to examine the perceived preparedness of college students for the transition from college to full-time employment. The study was concerned with the interest and rationale behind developing a required Exit Course for college students in order to improve the college to work transition. As well, possible content of an Exit Course was evaluated. The importance of addressing college to work transitions is highlighted by two phenomena. First, there are specific employability skills that employers in Canada are seeking in newly hired employees. Second, the provincial government in Ontario is determining college funding based on graduate employment statistics which are measured by graduate satisfaction, graduate employment, and employer satisfaction. The research concentrated on the following stakeholders involved in the transition from college to work: (a) current students, (b) recent graduates, (c) support staff who assist students in college to work transition (Career Educators), and (d) employers. Through qualitative research, including focus groups and interviews, these stakeholder groups participated in the research to determine if the Exit Course was a viable solution to facilitate the transition from college to work. Focus groups were conducted with current students, while one-on-one, semi-structured interviews were conducted with recent graduates, Career Educators, and employers. Common themes elicited from the participants included the following: (a) although students were perceived by the participants of this study to be technically prepared for employment, they were perceived to have weak job search skills and unrealistic expectations of the world of work unless they had received the benefits of a Co-operative Education experience; (b) an Exit Course was seen as a viable solution to the issues involved in college to work transition; (c) an Exit Course should be comprised of skills necessary to obtain and succeed in a job and the course should be taught by individuals with extensive qualifications in this area; and (d) there is a need to develop college and business partnerships to ensure that students are connected to employers. Educators within post secondary institutions, specifically colleges, can benefit from the information provided within this study to gain a better understanding of the perceived level of preparedness of students for the transition from college to work. Suggestions with regard to how to improve this transition were made, with specific reference to the addition of an Exit Course as one possible solution.