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April 14, 2005

Building tomorrow’s workforce today
Upon graduation from secondary school, today’s youth have many options. They may choose to continue their education in university or college, or opt to train as an apprentice. But for those who will not receive their diploma, the future does not hold as many alternatives. The most common destination for these students is to move directly from school to work. Even this can pose a challenge since many businesses today consider a Grade 12 diploma as a minimum entry requirement.

The reality is that there are a significant number of young people who, for a variety of reasons will not receive their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Without skills training and work experience opportunities these young people can experience difficulty finding meaningful employment. At the same time there are many local employers facing labour shortages in their entry level positions.

The Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board (HPEDSB) has implemented the Employment Destinations Program (EDP) to help these students find employment.

“The EDP prepares students for direct entry to the workforce following school,” explains Cindy Rymes, Special Education Project Leader for the EDP. “The students’ academic program is accompanied by hands-on learning experiences in the workplace.”

As part of a strategy to help these students make the successful transition from school to work, the HPEDSB and East Central Ontario Training Board (ECOTB) are hosting Mission Employable. These events will take place in Belleville on Wednesday, April 20th and in Trenton on Wednesday, April 27th. Both days feature guest speakers and workplace tours to introduce the students to the requirements of the entry-level jobs available locally.

“There are 60 students from seven secondary schools attending. About 30 employers will be providing the students with workplace tours,” Rymes says. “We have received enthusiastic response and support from the local business community. These employers realize the value in providing young people with realistic career information and real work experiences,” she adds.

Many students participating in Mission Employable will be available for co-op placements in the fall semester. These placements provide up to five months of on-the-job work experience.

“After completing all the phases of the EDP, these students are work ready. They just need employers to look at their skills and attitude rather than their paperwork!” concludes Rymes.

The Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board has 54 schools serving 18,400 students, employing 1,070 teachers and 705 support staff. The Board covers a wide geographical area of 7,221 square kilometres bordered by Maynooth to the north, Deseronto to the east, Prince Edward County to the south, and Quinte West to the west.

For information, contact:
• Cindy Rymes, Special Education Project Leader, (613) 966-1170, or 1 800 267-4350 ext. 2533
• Ann McIntosh, East Central Ontario Training Board, (613) 969-0720