Boards of Education are responsible for career and skills education programs – they’re typically included each school district’s strategic plan and budget forecast.

  • Student population
  • Post-secondary and community/industry involvement
  • The amount and type of program responsibilities to coordinate or manage

No matter how small or large a program the following should be considered.

Most districts will support career education programs through activities and programs that promote career awareness, exploration and engagement.

District Best Practices

Determining a district operational model is based on considerations such as the size of a school district, number of students, number of schools, and number programs in each school.

The Career Programs Leader is responsible for developing an operational plan for career programs that contains:

  • Clearly stated goals and measurable outcomes
  • Actions and activities to be delivered
  • Quality measures of desired outcomes
  • Personnel and resource requirements
  • Program development and implementation timeframe
  • Process for monitoring and assessing progress

It’s important to provide a variety of opportunities for stakeholder consultation and collaboration so that everyone who is knowledgeable about the policy and requirements of career development is involved in the planning phase.
A well-coordinated team is essential to efficient and effective program implementation. The following components are critical elements to the planning process:

  • Project plan
  • Communication and marketing plan
  • Student engagement and recruitment
  • Program development
  • Relationship/partnership development (industry, PSI)
  • Day-to-day personnel operations

Secondary and Middle School Best Practices

The structure of career development in secondary and middle school is a shared responsibility between school-based administration, counselors and classroom teachers. The District Careers Leader works in collaboration with school administration to develop and support career development activities. The district-wide “Careers” Team includes school participation and involvement in program development. 

Secondary school operation of careers programs vary and reflect objectives of the local labour market. However, there is a consistent focus on helping students build personal capacity for learning and working by developing confidence and competence. Work experience and career programs are personalized for each student and emphasis is placed on personal development, career exploration and preparation.

Middle school activities provide students with experiential opportunities and knowledge to make more informed decisions about course work at the secondary level and possible career pathways related to local, regional and provincial labour market demands.
Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Offer school-wide, classroom and individual opportunities for students to explore, prepare and engage in careers programs that meet the demand of local, regional and provincial labour market needs.
  • Bring curriculum to life by integrating career exploration hands-on activities through project-based learning, community partnerships, work experience or dual credit career programs
  • Consider offering leadership opportunities for students by having them mentor younger students by working together on career-focused projects and activities. This process can help younger students as they transition from elementary or middle school
  • Work with the District Careers Leader to develop exploration activities and programming that builds on personal competencies (e.g. careers learning outcomes in curriculum, applied skills courses / programs)
  • Make support structures available to students who are committed to a career program but are “at risk” of graduating (e.g. academic support, bus passes, workplace mentors or job coaches, post-secondary accommodations, etc.)

Career Development in the Classroom

  • Have regular discussions with students about their academic and career interests during high school
  • Help students think about the connections between academic coursework, post-secondary education, trades training and potential careers
  • Goal-setting activities for students to obtain more information about post high school education and careers
  • Introduce students to interest and skills inventories and create opportunities for discussion and project work
  • High school or post-secondary institution tours and visits to learn about course possibilities and discussions as to how they might relate to future education, training, and career planning
  • Promote creative and informed career exploration through the use of programs such as Take Your Kid To Work, Yes 2 IT, Junior Achievement, industry and post-secondary field trips

Adult and Alternate Learning Environments

In adult and alternate learning environments, career development is integrated into the curriculum. Graduation transition planning includes course selection and career path preparation activities. Work experience placements may be more difficult for adult and alternate students; though, schools can offer workplace safety certification and skills training to prepare students for workplace success. Success for these students is achieved when program staff are dedicated to career education and are included in district-wide “Careers” Team activities.

Elementary School Best Practices

Career development activities in the elementary years is focused on providing students with experiences to:

  • Learn about careers
  • Visit career sites
  • Learn about the world of work
  • Meet workers and professionals in a variety of settings

A key emphasis of the career awareness at this level is the development of self-awareness and self-reliance.

Here are some strategies to consider:

Career Engagement Programs

Developing and operating a career engagement program (e.g. ACE IT, SSA or dual credit) requires advance planning, organization and ongoing administration. Districts that successfully operate these kinds of programs have dedicated staff and maintain strong connections with local and regional labour market demands.

Use ITA Youth as a guidance resource for using best practices when putting together programs. Networking with districts that already offer programs is perhaps the most effective way of building knowledge capacity.

Districts should consider the following elements in the program development and planning phase:

  • Identify program needs based on employer and labour market demands
  • Determine how the program will be delivered – school-based, in partnership with a post-secondary institution, or a combination of both
  • Determine the ability to offer and sustain identified program(s):
    • Are there enough students to start and sustain the program in the future?
    • Is there program support (School Board, school(s), student, industry and business)?
    • Is there a confirmed post-secondary partner?
    • Is there teacher/instructor with the required certifications?
    • Have work experience placements been secured?
    • Do facilities meet industry training standards?
    • Has transportation to and from training/work site been secured?
    • Is there funding availability and sustainability for start up, operations, career staffing, instructor etc.?
    • Has the timetabling, particularly with post-secondary courses and programs, been arranged?
    • Is there sufficient leadership to oversee program development and implementation (i.e. principal, counsellors, career coordinators, PSI / transition support)?
    • Does the program fit into the Ministry of Education’s Graduation Program and have ministry-approved or BAA courses?
  • Include partners and program leadership in drafting a program outline
  • Obtain program approvals from the school district, school administration, post-secondary partners, industry partners and the Ministry of Education
  • Establish an agreement with partners (formal, if possible) to deliver programs and determine any costs to the district and to the student
  • Create a communications and marketing plan to recruit and inform students

Career Awareness & Exploration Programs / Activities

Developing and operating career awareness and exploration activities such as a YES 2 IT event, Maker Day or Heavy Metal Rocks requires some considerable advance planning, organization and on site co-ordination. Successful districts have dedicated staff to support the operations of such programs before, during and after the event. It’s also important to:

  • Be connected with related local and regional employers
  • Give attention to labour market demand

Find ideas for career awareness or career exploration programs and activities.

When developing an operational plan and approach consideration should be given to the following elements:

  • Purpose of the activity (career awareness or exploration)
  • Timeline for planning, implementing and putting on the activity/program
  • Funding / budget – how much per student or total for the event
  • Application for funding complete
  • Staff required
  • Volunteers
  • Learning partnerships – industry, parents, post-secondary, other?
  • Type of materials required (consumables, equipment)
  • Location rental (facility, room, equipment)
  • Transportation
  • Catering
  • Support resources – permission forms, lesson plans, handouts, information
  • Marketing materials / communication to students, staff and parents