The Reboot Plus program is funded as a labour market research initiative by the Future Skills Centre, Government of Canada. The goals for the Reboot Plus program are 1) to provide youth who are not on track to graduate from high school, the support, knowledge, skills, and post-secondary and workplace exposure required to develop and embark on a meaningful career pathway; and 2) to raise employer awareness of the importance of onboarding young people in the current labour market, and of their capacity to do so.
Researchers, Carla Hotel, MA, MEd (Counselling Psychology), and Danielle Quigley, Ph.D. of Douglas College in New Westminster, B.C., measured the results as students moved through the program “to 1) provide evidence of the impact on participants (e.g., self-confidence, communication skills, clarity in job search) and 2) improve the program (e.g., curriculum, delivery, recruitment) for all stakeholders.
Data was collected across all stakeholder groups including participants, facilitators, program employers and professional groups, and school district administrators, teachers, and staff. Satisfaction across those connected directly to the program was high. The overall findings show that Reboot Plus student needs were met; they felt more hopeful about their future. Professionals, in turn, gained a better perspective about young people entering the workforce. School district administration, teachers, and staff saw their student’s more prepared for their future with increased self-awareness and social connections.
Students found the program particularly useful in building communication, confidence, hope, and awareness of career pathways in the labour market. Learning about diverse work opportunities through informational interviews improved participation and confidence. Connecting to the post-secondary environment improved their sense of self-worth and belonging. Having a Douglas College student card, access to resources and spaces on campus improved participants’ sense of self-worth and belonging. Social connection and having a sense of belonging are social and psychological needs that have been identified as predictors of success, retention, persistence, and the overall wellbeing of students. Reboot Plus made significant strides in creating space both on campus and online for participants.
Professionals and Employers
The willingness of professionals and employers to participate in informational interviews exceeded expectations. Many professionals volunteered multiple times, asked for additional meetings with participants, and offered more support such as mentorship and work integrated learning opportunities. The research provides support that the program model is effective at not only engaging young people in career exploration and the labour market but also that it has expanded the perspectives of employers to view this demographic as potential employees. An increased willingness and motivation to support youth in the workplace, to understand the importance of supporting youth entering the workforce and to participate in future similar opportunities was evident in the employer results.
School District Administration, Teachers, and Staff
Teachers were engaged and supportive at all stages. For example, staff supported students by escorting them to the college in the beginning despite the proximity and easy access by transit, as some of the students had never been outside of their own neighbourhoods. The idea of taking a bus to another community even though the travel time was short, was inconceivable to some students. The teachers and staff commitment and communication with college facilitators made the difference for student success.
On teacher noted “this particular program was super attractive because… we’re familiar with the barriers and we know how difficult it is for these students to move forward. And I think it becomes a really individualized type of experience for students. You have to develop a program that really meets their unique needs or it’s not effective…. Right from the start were interested because we’re looking for these unique opportunities for our students.”
In early 2022, new funding was secured to continue and expand the model into three colleges outside of BC. As such important attention in the research for Reboot Plus has been dedicated to scalability. Based on limited data to date, the Reboot Plus model is scalable to other communities when essential requirements are adhered to, unique features in communities are recognized, and adaptions made where needed.
There are several must-have components which have been identified as necessary for success. First and foremost, the facilitators must wholeheartedly adopt the participant-centered and highly flexible approach when working with participants.
Other key elements of the program that make it unique and directly contribute to its success and contribute to significant buy-in from students are:
- the fulsome partnership with a local college,
- learning and engagement experiences with professionals in occupational fields identified by students,
- flexible instruction and support from Reboot Plus facilitators and liaisons, and
- comfort supports for students (e.g., food and transportation)
An expansion of the Reboot Plus program is set to begin starting in Fall 2022. As the program moves to involve multiple sites across Canada, the need for program champions at both the school district and college levels, content, and employment experts, engaged professionals and employers, and knowledgeable and compassionate facilitators will continue to be key to the success of the program. The expansion of Reboot Plus to new colleges and districts outside of BC is an important opportunity to test the portability of the model.”