A young person stands at a crossroads deciding which career path to take

Speaking up for career opportunities for youth

A young person stands at a crossroads deciding which career path to take

Remember high school? The world was full of possibilities, goals and different paths for the choosing. You could become a doctor, plumber, inspirational speaker or start your own company.

Today, quite a few high school students aren’t sure where their future will lead. They don’t have the benefit of professional connections and networking opportunities and aren’t sure what a career in a certain field entails. In Alberta, four in 10 high school graduates do not go on to post-secondary education. It is for these students that “Career Talks” and “Career Tours” were launched in December 2013 as part of United Way’s “All In” for Youth initiative.

The Career Talk program is a series of half hour presentations that give students a glimpse at a day in the life of various professionals. It also helps demonstrate the multitude of pathways to success.

The first Career Talk was in early December. Jill Drader, a tile setter and owner of Women in Work Boots, spoke to 25 female students. These students learned about opportunities available to women in the trades. Following this successful talk, the second featured two maintenance tradesmen from Devon Energy who spoke to a group of students from Bishop McNally High School.

December also launched the first Career Tour. Four students toured the Fairmont Palliser Hotel where they were able to see the inner workings of the hotel and get a feel for work in a major hotel chain. For three of the students, this experience sparked an interest in pursuing a career in the hotel industry.

Both these programs aim to show youth the range of options open to them and provide an essential connection to help them get there. By connecting youth to role models, mentors and positive speakers like Jill Drader, students gain the confidence they need to pursue a career that interests them and to get the education they need to get there.