Appendix 1

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What is the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS)?

The Youth in Transition Survey is a Canadian longitudinal survey designed to examine the patterns of, and influences on, major transitions in young people's lives, particularly with respect to education, training and work.

Following a major consultation process with key stakeholders across Canada, ten broad objectives were developed for YITS. They are as follows:

  1. to examine key transitions in the lives of youth, such as the transition from high school to postsecondary schooling and the initial transition from schooling to the labour market;
  2. to better understand educational and labour market pathways and the factors influencing these pathways;
  3. to identify educational and occupational pathways that provide a smoother transition to the labour market;
  4. to examine the incidence, characteristics, factors and effects of leaving school;
  5. to understand the impact of school effects on educational and occupational outcomes;
  6. to examine the contribution of work experience programs, part-time jobs, and volunteer activities to skills development and transition to the labour market;
  7. to study the attitudes, behaviours, and skills of young people entering the labour market;
  8. to gain a better understanding of the determinants of postsecondary entry and postsecondary retention, including education financing;
  9. to better understand the role of educational and labour market aspirations and expectations in investment in further education and career choice; and,
  10. to explore the educational and occupational pathways of various subgroups, particularly youth "at risk".

In order to address these objectives in a timely fashion, it was decided to collect data from two age groups of youth in the first cycle of the survey in 2000.  One began its participation at age 15 and the other at ages 18 to 20. Both cohorts were asked to provide a range of information on their education and employment experiences as well as information on their personal characteristics including, for example, their educational aspirations. The younger group also participated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an internationally recognized test to evaluate the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics, and science. Furthermore, an interview was conducted with their parents and a questionnaire was administered to their school principals.

In total, almost 30,000 youth aged 15, and more than 22,000 youth aged 18 to 20 from the ten provinces participated in the first cycle of YITS in 2000. Analysis for both cohorts was presented in different publications available to download for free through the Internet at

Follow-up interviews with the YITS participants took place in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.  At the time of their last interview, the two cohorts were aged 23 and 26 to 28 respectively.

YITS Methodology

Target population

YITS has two target populations: a cohort of individuals who were 18 to 20 years old on December 31, 1999 and a cohort of students who were 15 years-old on December 31, 1999.  This section deals more specifically with the older cohort, which constitute the subject of this report.

Sample design

The target population for the 18 to 20 year-old cohort comprises residents of the ten provinces of Canada who were born between 1979 and 1981. These individuals turned 18 to 20 during 1999, the reference year for cycle 1.

The design implemented for the 18 to 20 year-old cohort is based on certain groups of households that were in the Labour Force Survey (LFS) between January 1997 and December 1999. Individuals who were full-time members of the armed forces and persons living on Indian reserves or in northern and remote areas are excluded from LFS and were therefore also excluded from this cohort. From these LFS households, a sample of individuals, born between 1979 and 1981 or those estimated to be between 18 to 20 years of age during 1999, was selected.

The sample consisted of 29,164 individuals aged 18 to 20 years old in cycle 1. In total, 23,594 (80.9%) individuals responded in cycle 1.  Respondents who refused to share their data were taken out of the sample for cycle 2, which reduced it to 22,378.  In the following cycles the response rates were 83.9% in cycle 2, 78.9% in cycle 3, 83.8% in cycle 4 and 80.0% in cycle 5. The sample went from 18,743 in cycle 3 to 14,753 in cycle 4 to 12,360 in cycle 5.

Data collection

While separate data collection strategies were employed for each of the cohorts in cycle 1, the same data collection strategy was used for both cohorts in cycle 2 and subsequent cycles.  Data collection usually occurs between mid-January and mid-June using computer assisted telephone interviewing.

The following table shows the response rates by province and cycle.

Table A.1.1
Response rates, cycles 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5