'Virtual... provides more accessible access to career exploration for students’
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting workplaces everywhere, one annual event is switching to virtual. Take Our Kids to Work 2020 will be held online on Nov. 4 for the first time ever.
But the plan to pivot to virtual began before the coronavirus hit, according to one of the organizers.
“Virtual has been brewing for us since launching our strategic plan last fall [and] we’ve been full pedal to the metal as of April,” says Erin Schachter, national director of development at the Learning Partnership (TLP) in Toronto. “Virtual was always on the horizon for the next three years recognizing its capacity to expand engagement [and] to provide more accessible access to career exploration for students.”
The event first ran in 1994 in Canada and it normally involves a grade 9 student physically visiting a workplace to expose them “to careers they might already be curious about or ones they haven’t considered, connecting them to prospective mentors, and giving students a real-world chance to step out of the classroom and into the workplace,” says Schachter.
However, given the challenging circumstances this year as many businesses are being run through the internet, this year will be a bit different. “We’re joining forces and providing virtual programs to help supplement these efforts and provide additional opportunities to students who might not have access to these workplace discovery sessions,” she says.
The opening session on Nov. 4 will be hosted by Erin Latimer, a para-alpine athlete from Toronto who competed in the 2014 and 2018 Olympic winter games. The kickoff will “showcase diverse career pathways featuring inspiring skilled trade workers as well as innovative doctors and some award-winning entrepreneurs, with a firm focus on diversity; that whole initiative is really based on hope and resilience,” says Schachter.
Overall, there will be five events featuring nine total experiences, she says.
“Those are in real-time, live-streamed and produced in partnership with several great people across Canada to provide students a chance to meet some of the folks who are doing amazing work and ask questions in real time... We have dynamic, real-time virtual sessions, each focused on a different sector: one for skilled trades, one for finance and technology, one for innovation and entrepreneurship, and one for healthcare care.”
The reactions so far with participating employers is impressive, according to Schachter.
“We’ve also been hearing great enthusiasm across the education network in Canada, who feel really excited about the potential to offer more equitable access to students who sometimes are left out of Take Our Kids to Work Day.”
And only a few workplaces have indicated that they won’t be participating, she says.
“There seems to be just a hunger for the opportunities for employees to galvanize around a good cause and [with] Take Our Kids To Work Day, they really provide that good cause and platform for employees to wrap their arms around, to celebrate family values, and to put passion and effort into raising the future leaders, change makers and problem solvers of Canada.”
Meanwhile, the Ontario government recently announced a two-year program for apprentices to have some of their living expenses covered, while the federal government announced it will enhance its investment in the youth skills learning program.