While Canada's youth unemployment rates remain fairly low, many high schoolers struggle to find part-time work.
To help students find a job, apply, and have a successful interview, staff at the Northern Career Development Service here have visited Fort Frances High School every other Wednesday for one-on-one sessions since the end of February.
“The partnership is meant to give students any extra support they might need in their journey to employment,” explained NCDS executive director Nicke Paddock.
Students can book appointments with NCDS through the guidance office and receive help with credit recovery, résumé/cover letter writing, filling out complicated applications, getting employment advice, tips on how to save money, and more.
NCDS has worked in classrooms at Fort High before but this is the first time it has came in to work with students individually.
“We want to make sure the students know that we are another resource for them,” Paddock said.
“We have great youth programs that they can be a part of that offer pre-employment training and a job placement.”
Part of NCDS's goal of visiting the high school is to raise awareness amongst students that it exists, offers a valuable service, and can provide them with the support they need to find employment.
“We're an additional support system for the students and we want to build meaningful connections with them so that they are more likely to turn to us when they are unemployed,” Paddock noted.
NCDS is separate from the high school and the discussions they have with students are confidential.
Paddock said NCDS staff are friendly faces who are there to help. The sessions are judgement-free and NCDS staff want students to feel comfortable.
Sarah Gagne of NCDS has visited Fort High to assist students and said she thinks that being at the schools, instead of their office on Scott Street, makes things a little less intimidating.
One student who took advantage of a session at Fort High needed some guidance on landing a part-time job while another needed credit recovery.
Still others wanted to know what to study to get into their “dream school” and into a career they are passionate about.
“With the high demand for employees, and especially skilled ones, in our district, we are reaching out to help students find jobs that fit their needs and the employers' needs,” Paddock said.
“We can offer the students some labour market information that gives them an understanding of the demands in our area, which helps them choose what jobs they want to go into or which programs to take in college or university,” she noted.
And if students are intimidated by the current job market, NCDS is here to help, Paddock stressed.
“We're kind of like the middle person to help prepare them," she explained. ”[To] let them know what jobs are out there.
“And we can often work with the employer,” she added.
NCDS also knows about the “hidden job market,” which is made up of job openings that are not posted publicly by employers.
“Often times, they'll just call us up and ask if we have a person,” Paddock noted.
Looking ahead, NCDS will be hosting a summer job/employment fair on Wednesday, April 10 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Fort High in partnership with Shooniya Wa-Biitong, the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board, and the Rainy River District School Board.
“The purpose is so that students come out with possibly a new job,” Paddock said.
She added it's important to note this is not a career fair but rather a “hiring fair,” with the end-goal of having students leave there with summer jobs.
“Employers can expect to come and hire some summer students right there, so they'll be doing mini-interviews on the spot,” Paddock explained.
Lunch will be provided by NCDS and it already has about 15 employers on board.
“It will be a great day," Paddock enthused. "We're going to play some games and have lots of good prizes for the students.”
She is encouraging all Fort High students looking for work to put themselves out there and see if there's any jobs in the community that might be a good fit for them.