CAREERS :The Next Generation
In 1997, Chairman and CEO of Syncrude Canada Ltd., Eric Newell spoke about strengthening the links between the workplace and the classroom at the “Building Tomorrow Today” conference at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton. He referred to a Foundation called CAREERS. “CAREERS is a way of dealing productively with the very real career concerns of young people,” he said, explaining that the Foundation was part of a creative, innovative and productive way to provide life-long learning opportunities for people in the emerging global information economy.
Today Mr. Newell is the current CAREERS Board Chair. Countless partners from government, schools, communities, industry, families and students have united together under the CAREERS banner to shape their own destinies, build rewarding careers for youth and attain success. The number of interns placed every year has increased. More than 20,000 have been placed in total—with a record high of 2,017 in 2013. Since 1997 the number of participating schools has increased from 16 to 546, communities engaged rose from 13 to 306, and the number of annual employers accepting student interns into CAREERS programs and their workplaces has grown from 57 to 1,327, or more than 13,000 unique employers since inception, including many who have been involved year-in, year-out.
CAREERS is a unique, non-profit organization raising youth awareness of career options and helping students earn while they learn through paid worksite internships. With its many partners, CAREERS introduces young people to rewarding careers and helps develop the skilled workers of the future. In 2013, the CAREERS team presented career workshops to 42,644 students within 546 schools in 306 communities. Those placed were able to explore career paths in the high school Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP), the post high school Co-op Apprenticeship model, or in one of several dual-credit programs in Power Engineering 4th Class, Health Services (including Health Care Aide) or Oil and Gas Production Field Operator (PFO). The bar was also raised on the CAREERS Aboriginal Youth Initiative by placing 103 aboriginal student interns with 87 employer workplaces—an all-time high. Still, gaps exist. In Canada, there are about 900,000 people under the age of 30 who are either not employed or are still learning or training, youth unemployment remains high, too many students are leaving high school without their diploma, and too many of those who acquire a university degree are underemployed. In Alberta, the estimate of the skilled labour shortage exceeds 100,000 jobs.
Working with its partners, CAREERS promotes: “Smart kids. Smart employers. Smart workplaces.” It does this in a number of ways.
- Community partnerships were created to connect with industry leaders, educators, and other stakeholders in specific Alberta regions to gain strategic insight and knowledge into the distinctive skilled workforce needs for a region and what CAREERS can do to serve thoseneeds. Partnerships have been formed in regions such as Wood Buffalo, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge.
- Through the Aboriginal Youth Initiative, Aboriginal Team members from CAREERS help bridge the gap between the aboriginal talent pool and industry’s skilled worker needs by improving access to workshops and programs in aboriginal communities. In 2013, the CAREERS team engaged with 241 schools in 176 communities, presenting workshops to 6,017 aboriginal students. Connections were made in 41 First Nations reserves and all eight Métis settlements to help aboriginal youth explore potential career pathways. More recently, CAREERS was instrumental in helping the Alberta Chamber of Resources Aboriginal Workforce Development Pilot Project achieve workforce talent placement targets by connecting working age aboriginal people with ACR-member employment opportunities. Thirty-three of the 35 aboriginal employment opportunities were filled.
- The CAREERS organization’s program menu includes the mainstay apprenticeship model of RAP, which allows students to begin apprenticeship training in a trade while in high school. RAP students earn a fair wage, high school credit and hours toward their first year apprenticeship.
- CAREERS hosts a four-day interactive program called the Health Sciences Career Camp, which provides career exposure to students in grades 9–12 from the Greater Edmonton region to a broad spectrum of health professions and programs available from postsecondary providers. The camp’s primary goal is to create awareness, while nurturing student interest to consider the pursuit of a health career.
- CAREERS also hosts a five-day Power Engineering Summer Institute at NAIT for provincial students enrolled in the program and in need of exploratory boiler steam time. Likewise, SAIT is the home of a five-day Oil and Gas Summer Camp for students enrolled in the PFO program.
These and many other CAREERS programs and initiatives continue to help a serious skills shortage that prohibits business certainty together with high youth unemployment. It’s about “building a better tomorrow today” for youth, communities and business.
For more information about CAREERS: The Next Generation please visit www.nextgen.org