The SD61 Career Fair takes place annually and draws about 1500 students each year. (Photo courtesy Lindsay Johnson)

Victoria program sees students explore careers starting in middle school

Career exploration programs help Greater Victoria School District students sample different jobs

Choosing a career can be challenging and the Greater Victoria School District strives to prepare students to make that choice by offering a variety of career experience opportunities through the Pathways and Partnerships program.

The goal is to expose students to career paths while they’re still in school, explained Lindsay Johnson, district vice-principle.

The B.C. curriculum already includes career education, but School District 61 seeks to take things one step further by helping students figure out who they are and then guiding them to fulfilling careers.

Middle school students can try different careers and learn from professionals who come to give presentations. In high school, the students can jump into apprenticeships and work experience programs to try out careers while earning credits.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria students help bring small-scale urban farming to community

There are youth apprenticeship opportunities with local businesses for students interested in going into trades. If students complete 900 hours of work experience and graduate high school with a C+ average or better, the Ministry of Education awards them a $1,000 scholarship. Eleven students in the district will receive the scholarship in December, Johnson said.

Through the South Island Partnership with Camosun College, students in the five local school districts are able to test drive career paths and receive dual credit – both high school and post-secondary credit – in trades, business, health care and tech fields. Through the University of Victoria, students can take first year courses in the U Start program or learn about computer science in the High Tech U program.

The career experience opportunities in trades, automotive and aviation are offered by the district and take place during a full semester, but other career programs run in the summer, Johnson explained. There’s Seed the City, a small-scale farming project with LifeCycles, there’s a graphic design course through the Pacific Design Institute and the Tourism and Leadership Experience program with the West Coast Adventure College.

READ ALSO: Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair back for fourth year

Through the many career exploration programs, the district keeps track of market trends and the local economy and adapts the career path options accordingly, Johnson explained. It would be unwise to expose students to jobs that aren’t in demand.

The district also strives to end the stigma surrounding careers that don’t involve a university degree, place value on all jobs and teach students that changing career paths in normal because life isn’t linear and that they should focus on learning skills that are transferable, Johnson said. She’s proud of the opportunities the district is able to offer their students.

High school students looking to participate in career exploration can visit their career centre and those in middle school can speak to their school’s administration staff. Community members interested in mentoring a youth apprentice, presenting about their career or participating in the annual career fair can contact Johnson at ljohnson@sd61.bc.ca.


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