The Role of Alternative Education in Canada’s Future

Canada faces multiple crises in climate, healthcare, labor, immigration, and democracy. These challenges show a need for comprehensive, integrated strategies rather than fragmented, short-term responses. Every single person matters in this economy. Sustainable solutions lie in upstream actions, with education at the forefront.

The Power of Education

Education is a key driver of social and economic prosperity. Over 90% of Canadian students attend public schools. Reboot Plus focuses on the other 10%. Those who are struggling with the current systems and need more support and guidance. We want all youth to realize their potential. We need to ensure that our grade 11 and 12 students have every opportunity for mentorship and support. We want them to identify possible career and entrepreneurial opportunities in our communities. The overall goal of our program is to provide a positive educational experience and encourage youth to actively continue their education to prepare for a meaningful career. Effective education fosters higher individual success and healthier, more equitable societies.

Benefits of Effective Education

Research shows that higher education levels lead to better health, increased earnings, greater civic participation, and reduced misinformation spread. Societies with educated populations enjoy higher GDPs, equity, and civic engagement, along with lower social service costs and greater innovation.

Education and Future Solutions

Future workforces require skills like critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving, which are not adequately embedded in current curricula. Investment in education also yields significant health and economic benefits. According to the Wellesley Institute, education “leads to good health through access to more opportunities for secure employment and good income, better living conditions, and better awareness of a healthy lifestyle.” A recent UN summit described transforming education as “an urgent political imperative for our collective future” and said that education is the most effective strategy to counter inequity, polarization, misinformation, and growing distrust in our public institutions.

Building Cross-Sector Bridges

Education champions exist across various sectors in Canada. The Reboot Plus program pulls together a village to support youth in their educational and career development. We have partnered with local high schools, local colleges community Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trades, and community professionals to offer wrap around support for youth who are struggling to find their ‘why.’ Building bridges between education, business, health, climate, and other sectors creates practical tools and strategies for the challenges we’re all facing. This cross-sector approach is driving educational transformation in youth who have just about given up on “being” anything.

Amplifying Youth Voices

Youth are crucial for sustainable change, yet their learning needs are not always met in the current education system. When we start to learn more about who our students are and some of the barriers and challenges they face, we can create a more individualized and student focused way of presenting the curriculum. This will help us amplify youth voices and integrate their knowledge and expertise into education dialogues to ensure future policies reflect the needs and aspirations of young people.

A Call to Action

Each Reboot Plus youth participant meets between four and seven professionals within occupational fields of their interest. We are looking for professionals from a very broad range of occupations who are willing to give 30 – 60 minutes to be interviewed. During these youth led information interviews, professionals share their own career development experiences and provide career insights, a sense of the current labour market, and an idea of the skills, education and experience required. Sharing our stories passes our knowledge to youth. Youth gain insight, and yo gain knowledge of what is going on for them in their world and their time.

Canada’s future depends on innovative education strategies. Every single person has a unique contribution to make.

With funding from the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre, we are examining whether a hope-centred education and career development program can help youth find their purpose. Students in our program are vulnerable youth aged 17 to 24 who have not finished high school and do not have a plan for their future. Our 16-week program helps participants identify their values, personality, interests and skills, meet with professionals and develop an education and career action plan.

Le projet Reboot Plus est financé par le Centre des Compétences futures du gouvernement du Canada.