This program involves working directly with nine schools within the Discovery Zone to identify students in Level’s 1, 2 and 3 having barriers to finding employment. The Liaison Officer works closely with guidance counsellors and special needs teaching staff in order to offer support to any student requiring assistance in finding summer or ongoing employment. Barriers to employment might include, but are not limited to, physical disability, learning disability, developmental disability, mental health issue or conflict with the law.
Feedback from parents and students has shown that this opportunity has provided students with much more than work experience. For many students they’ve learned social skills, team work, confidence, accountability and self-esteem.
Because each person has unique concerns, modules often change based upon the needs of the individual. These modules range from resume and cover letter writing to confidence building. The goal of finding a ‘job’ is important on many levels. It teaches youth work ethic, how to manage time, how to create a budget and early skills that can be taken with them into all future employment endeavors. It is a lot of work and a big commitment from parents and students.
Since it is a challenge to develop a first resume due to lack of qualification and work experience all students are recommended to go through this module. Thankfully, volunteer experience is now part of high school curriculum and offers students an advantage over other applicants who are lacking in this area. Besides drafting the documents themselves students learned how to email or fax their applications. They also learned how to appropriately deliver a resume face to face at a place of business.
Once applications are submitted the objective is to get an interview. All students were given the opportunity to take part in the interview preparation component of the program. This involves role play dealing with a variety of topics such as hand shake, eye contact, posture, body language, tone and volume of voice, hygiene and many others. It also teaches students to think on their feet and how to answer interview questions effectively. For some anxiety management was a very important factor in their ability to confidently discuss their qualifications or interest for the desired role.
For most students, this is their first opportunity for paid work experience. Students previously have been employed at various locations within the zone at businesses including service stations, grocery and department stores and with local service districts.
Once a student is employed the School Liaison Officer monitors the teen at his or her work place. Feedback is gathered regarding likes and dislikes areas for opportunity and goals for growth, and hours of work. The program offers students with a support system that gives them encouragement and guidance for any issues surrounding their new role. Some examples might include feedback meeting with employers and mediation or assistance with concerns over punctuality, time management, focus, etc.
The momentum of this program grows year over year and AEC is confident the success of previous years is indicative of years to come.
Call 466-1670 or 468-2237 for more information on this program.