By Stephanie Wei
Special to The Toronto Sun
The Toronto Board of Trade is urging its members and businesses across the GTA to create new employment opportunities for students.
All school boards in Ontario are required to offer interested students school-work opportunities. According to a recent board member survey, 61% of respondents are interested in providing students with co-op placements, however, only 19% actually do so.
Elyse Allen, president and CEO, Toronto Board of Trade;
Anthony Hopkins, HR manager (middle), King Edward Hotel; and Don Jackson, chair, Provincial Partnership.
In a bid to help employers get connected to resources, the board is joining forces with the Provincial Partnership Council, the Ontario Learning Partnership Group, and business and community leaders to promote Passport to Prosperity, an employer-led effort to increase awareness of, and participation in school-work programs.
May is Passport to Prosperity month, and business-education councils and training boards are holding events across the province to help raise the profile of school-work programs for high school students. At a recent event kicking off Passport to Prosperity month, Elyse Allan, Toronto Board of Trade president and CEO, encouraged its 9,000 member businesses to "give students opportunities to get familiar with life in the real world of work."
Allan urged GTA businesses to "hire a student for a co-op placement, a summer job, an apprenticeship, or any other kind of work placement experience. You'll be giving students practical experience, and providing them with exposure to a variety of job options and industries."
Richard Hudson, a first-year student at Sheridan College, was represented by his employer, Canadian Tire, at the Passport to Prosperity launch. Hudson is ecstatic to be working in the shipping department of the retail chain.
Richard Hudson landed a job at Canadian Tire through Passport to Prosperity.
"This is definitely a good employer for youth. There's so much opportunity within this company. As long as you do a good job, you'll go places," Hudson said.
The computer science student started as a shipper, and has since received training on specialized equipment and learned to drive a forklift. Hudson says opportunities for students are often hard to come by, which is why he is so impressed with Canadian Tire. The company employs about 600 students, and offers them financial incentives that continue through to post-secondary education.
According to the Ontario Learning Partnership Group, a network of 26 business education councils, the benefits of hiring students include:
Increased competitiveness and enhanced company productivity.
A strengthened economy with a labour market that supplies qualified workers.
Reduced recruitment and training costs.
A well-stocked labour force with young skilled workers as older workers retire.
Increased public image and consumer loyalty.
Hudson says employers can benefit as much as students through offering school-work programs.
"Students offer an unlimited supply of employees who are willing to listen and learn. They can start in entry-level positions, but can grown into higher positions."
Allan agrees: "It's clear from our survey that having and maintaining a skilled work force of young adults who have developed a range of skills can only help the workforce."
For more information on Passport to Prosperity, contact Ellen Kalis of the Ontario Learning Partnership Group at 416-598-0055 or visit www.olpg.on.ca.
(Write Toronto-based freelancer Stephanie Wei at (firstname.lastname@example.org).)
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