Thousands of Grade 9 students across the country have abandoned school for the day, opting instead to head off to the workplace with parents, friends and relatives.
Take Our Kids to Work Day, now in its 13th year, is a one-day program designed to let students experience first-hand some of the career options that will be available to them.
“With so many choices awaiting our future workforce, it’s vital that parents, teachers and mentors reach out to provide students with the necessary tools to succeed,” said Veronica Lacey, president and CEO of The Learning Partnership, the organization behind the day. “Take Our Kids to Work is an incredible program that recognizes the importance of preparing students for a successful career and brings possibilities to life in a truly experiential way.”
Brad Duguid, Ontario’s labour minister, said the annual event, which has participants in every province and territory, is a chance for employers to teach students the importance of health and safety in the workplace.
“It’s vital for employers and parents to take this opportunity to talk to young people about the importance of health and safety in the workplace,” said Duguid. “Students should get a complete picture of the workplace – and that includes an overview on how to stay healthy and safe at work.”
Duguid said employers should show the Grade 9 students potential hazards and conduct an orientation tour should so everyone has an understanding of the precautions, emergency procedures and workplace safety rules everyone must follow. Students should also be shown general requirements for personal protective equipment, first-aid provisions and all other essential health and safety facts.
The Ontario government said it is continuing to raise awareness on workplace health and safety among young workers. For example:
•In May, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Education and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board launched a dramatic, hard-hitting workplace safety ad campaign aimed at 15- to 19-year-olds. It features animated ads that are shown in movie theatres, on public transit and online
•The Live Safe! Work Smart! program, which provides teachers with resources to help prepare high-school students for the job-specific safety training every employer must provide, is now being extended to elementary school students
•The Minister’s Action Group on Vulnerable Workers Under Age 25, which has been working to identify issues and offer solutions affecting young vulnerable workers, submitted its final report in May. The Group presented eight recommendations in two categories: Protecting young people by making sure vulnerable youth have the information and resources they need to recognize unsafe situations and have the confidence to refuse unsafe work; and improving safety in workplaces that employ vulnerable youth.
Since 1994, more than 1.5 million young Canadians and tens of thousands of workplaces have participated in the Take Our Kids to Work program.
Tara Hobel is a Grade 9 student spending the day with Thomson Carswell, the publishers of Canadian HR Reporter, as part of Take Our Kids to Work Day.