CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Pathways to Success conference earns top marks

Fall classes began early for more than 200 teachers and guidance counsellors from across Ontario who attended the second annual Hamilton School-Work Transition Conference, a free event organized by the Industry-Education Council of Hamilton and held at Redeemer University College on Sept. 1.
Keynote speaker

"It's was a great way for teachers involved in career education planning and employment programs to get energized for another year of helping students," says council executive director Richard Allen.

Transitioning students

"The field of school-work transition is advancing daily and teachers are eager to keep pace with change. Delegates learned about new resources and approaches to assist students transitioning to employment, advanced training or higher education."

Dr. David Livingstone, director, Centre for the Study of Education and Work, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, delivered a keynote message built around findings of a breakthrough 2004 national survey of work and lifelong learning.

He noted positive trends toward higher education among youth and Canada's global reputation as a learning society. Troubling, however, is growing evidence of employers' underutilization of the existing skills and knowledge that many young people acquire through informal learning.

"Learning and credentials are good things," Livingstone said, "but we need to find alternative ways to recognize, apply and reward talents acquired outside the conventional classroom."

Livingstone also commented on the need to value apprenticeship training as a key component of Canada's learning system.

The conference featured 16 interactive sessions conducted by leading career practitioners and targeting subjects such as career mentoring, entrepreneurship, skilled trades training, workplace safety, preparation for college and university, and helping students make good career decisions.

"A number of recurring themes arose throughout the day," recalls Allen. "Presenters emphasized the need to consider the full range of career pathways that branch out from high school, apprenticeship training, college and university.

"There was also a shared call to strengthen working relationships between school- and community-based career development programs. And we were reminded of the need to assist the growing number of work bound high school students in communities such as Hamilton."

Local programs

As the host community, Hamilton had an opportunity to showcase exemplary local programs including Student Success, a joint initiative of both local district school boards designed to increase workplace learning and employment opportunities for high school students, and The Skilled Trades Alliance.

The Alliance is a community-based initiative of the Industry-Education Council of Hamilton with the purpose of engaging local stakeholders and leveraging local, regional and national resources in an unprecedented partnership to strengthen and sustain the skilled trades workforce.

The Pathways to Success Conference was organized by a multi-sector planning committee and sponsored by the Teachers Credit Union, The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, with support from McMaster University, Mohawk College and Redeemer University College.

For conference details and related links, visit

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