School District 69 (Qualicum) is hoping to kickstart students’ thoughts on their future by having them head to work for a day.
The annual Take Our Kids to Work Day takes place Wednesday, Nov. 1 and will see most of the district’s Grade 9 students shadow one of their parents, a guardian or volunteer during a full day of work.
From a rainy day out in a lumber yard to a full day of flying fur at a veterinarian’s office, students will get a widely different experience observing what goes on in different workplaces.
Despite those differences, the goal is the same, said career co-ordinator and organizer of the day, Luc Ouellet.
“It’s a great opportunity to open dialogue between students and the parents,” he said.
“When the students come home (and ask) ‘Hey, can I go to work with you on Nov. 1?’ (the response is) ‘What? You don’t want to go there,’ or ‘Hey, that’s great.’ But it’s an eye-opener.
“Sometimes some of us have jobs that we don’t want to do, or others have jobs that we do want to do, but it’s been a series of decisions and circumstances that have gotten us there,” said Ouellet.
That conversation is often just the beginning of more sober thought about the future on the part of students.
“(The students) are back in school, they start to reflect a little bit… talk with their friends about work, and all of a sudden conversations about careers and where they’re going, it becomes more real,” he said.
That’s why the work day event is for Grade 9 students — it’s scheduled right before they start on their graduation track from Grades 10-12, and are able to make more choices about what electives to take.
Generally, Ouellet said, about 70 per cent of Grade 9 students take part. In cases where parents or guardians cannot take their student to work, Ouellet works to find a volunteer that the student can shadow.
Though there is no expectation that students do actual work during that day, and there isn’t a significant assignment due later, the impact can be significant.
“Be it positive or negative, it’s real, and when things are real, kids come to life,” said Ouellet.