By Sharon Aschaiek
It was the career fair to end all career fairs -- and Ontario job hunters came out the winners.
The Education, Training and Career (ETC) Fair drew tens of thousands of high school students, parents and adult job seekers to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this past weekend to explore education and career opportunities.
High school students were able to get information about colleges, universities and the trades at the ETC Fair.
About 7,500 high school students from 83 different high schools flooded the event on Friday, and were able to get information from 110 exhibitors, including colleges, universities, career institutes, training centres, companies and much more.
"It's great. I saw an exhibit for a school in Australia -- it might be cool to study there," said Dennis Lupai, 15, of Weston Collegiate Institute. Lupai would like to be a pilot.
Vivian Yeung and Wendy Siu, both 15 and students of St. Augustine Catholic High School, are interested in pursuing medical careers, but came to see what other opportunities are out there.
"I want to get information and explore different careers," Yeung said. "This fair is opening my eyes to different career paths, which will help me decide what's better for me."
The fair, which took a full year of planning, was produced by Ineo Group and sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
The fair has been running in Montreal for the past six years, but this is the first Toronto event.
Laurie Poole, ETC Fair director, said much of the emphasis of the fair was on opportunities in the trades.
Vivian Yeung (left), and Wendy Siu, both 15, are interested in medical careers. They came to the fair to explore their options.
"We've focused on the trades, because clearly, in the provincial economy and with what's going on in labour, there is a serious shortage of workers," Poole said.
It was also important, Poole said, for the fair to inform people in an engaging way.
"We were also looking for interactive demonstrations, things where people can get their hands on stuff, and leave the fair with a taste of what a career sector was all about."
The Trades and Apprenticeship Pavilion featured information and demonstrations on skilled trades such as masonry and bricklaying.
At the Youth Employment Strategy Pavilion, high school students were provided with resources to ease the school- to-work transition.
The International Pavilion, meanwhile, featured representatives from nine Australian universities discussing various programs.
Chris Atkinson, an 18-year-old student at Port Dover Composite, wants to either get into the Coast Guard or become a police officer.
"There's a lot of information here, a lot to absorb and think about," he said.
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