Path­ways event high­lights pos­si­ble ca­reers

The Beacon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - GALEN SIM­MONS STAFF RE­PORTER BEA­CON HER­ALD

More than 400 stu­dents from across Huron and Perth coun­ties were at the Strat­ford Ro­tary Com­plex Wed­nes­day to learn about the broad se­lec­tion of ca­reer path­ways close to home.

Hosted by the Avon Mait­land and Huron Perth Catholic district school boards in part­ner­ship with Perth County and Part­ners in Em­ploy­ment, the Path­ways Ca­reer and In­for­ma­tion Fair gave stu­dents in grades 7-12 the op­por­tu­nity to meet and speak with more than 90 em­ploy­ers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from lo­cal post­sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions, co-op­er­a­tive ed­u­ca­tion and ap­pren­tice­ship pro­grams, and pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tions.

“What needs to hap­pen in schools is we need to en­gage the com­pa­nies, and the par­ents, and the whole com­mu­nity in the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem be­cause so many pro­grams now in­volve ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing out­side of the reg­u­lar class­room,” said Mark Roth, path­ways co-or­di­na­tor for the Avon Mait­land District School Board.

Through­out the af­ter­noon, stu­dents – and later, mem­bers of the gen­eral pub­lic –toured through nearly 100 in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays, learn­ing what kinds of ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist lo­cally and also the cour­ses, co-ops, and apprenticeships needed to pur­sue dur­ing high school to set them up for suc­cess in a given in­dus­try or spe­cific com­pany.

Rep­re­sented at the event were or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the On­tario Youth Ap­pren­tice­ship Pro­gram, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion’s Spe­cial­ist High Skills Ma­jor pro­gram, the Off the Wall Strat­ford Artists Al­liance, the Strat­ford and Area Builders As­so­ci­a­tion, and Skills On­tario, as well as dozens of lo­cal em­ploy­ers, in­clud­ing Huron Trac­tor, Famme & Co Pro­fes­sional Cor­po­ra­tion, Boshart In­dus­tries Inc., and Gray Ridge Egg Farms.

“Stu­dents all come with dif­fer­ent needs and learn­ing abil­i­ties,” said Mark Flana­gan, the tech­nol­ogy depart­ment head at St. Michael Catholic Sec­ondary School in Strat­ford. “The univer­sity path­way is al­ways pro­moted in high schools, but we have col­leges here, we have trades here, we have dif­fer­ent op­por­tu­ni­ties than what are nor­mally fo­cused on in the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem ... and we can vis­ually show them (those ca­reer path­ways) here at the fair to­day.”

Speak­ing on be­half of the county, man­ager of eco­nomic devel­op­ment and tourism Mered­ith For­get said en­gag­ing stu­dents at an early age and show­ing them they can work to­ward a lu­cra­tive ca­reer close to home is meant to stem youth mi­gra­tion out of the area while help­ing ad­dress the lo­cal labour short­age.

“We’re in a labour short­age. Our busi­nesses need peo­ple now. We need to en­cour­age all of our youth to come home,” For­get said. “We want them to go off to school, get ed­u­cated, to be­come ap­pren­tices, but we want them to come home.

“So we want to show­case to all of our youth that there is great op­por­tu­ni­ties right here in our own back­yard.”

And as for the stu­dents them­selves, most – es­pe­cially in the younger grades – are still fig­ur­ing out what they want to do with their lives after school.

Syd­ney Kendall, a Grade 11 stu­dent from St. Michael Catholic Sec­ondary School, said she’s still not 100 per cent sure what path­way she’s go­ing to fol­low just yet, but ap­pre­ci­ates the op­por­tu­nity to con­sider the wide va­ri­ety of ca­reers avail­able.

“Be­cause I’m in Grade 11, I want to try and find a path that I like. There’s a lot of things out here, es­pe­cially nowa­days, that I don’t know about, so I wanted to ex­plore what there is, es­pe­cially now that I can plan my high school cour­ses around what I want to do in the fu­ture,” Kendall said.

As a com­ple­ment to the ca­reer fair, the school boards also hosted what they called the Real Deal din­ner for 200 fe­male high school stu­dents and their moms. The din­ner fea­tured talks by sev­eral tradeswomen about their own ca­reer path­ways, as well as a dis­cus­sion with the speak­ers’ moth­ers about how they sup­ported their daugh­ters’ pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment.

GALEN SIM­MONS/THE

Brent and Nancy Baker, owner of Sim­plis­tic Lines in Perth County, demon­strate for sev­eral lo­cal stu­dents how their GPS-driven tech­nol­ogy helps en­sure lines on sports fields are drawn ac­cu­rately.

GALEN SIM­MONS/THE BEA­CON HER­ALD

Hun­dreds of stu­dents from across the Avon Mait­land and Huron Perth Catholic district school boards were in Strat­ford Wed­nes­day for the Path­ways Ca­reer and In­for­ma­tion Fair.

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