A group of local high school and post-secondary students boarded a specially-designated bus with Sault MPP Ross Romano Friday, marking the beginning of a tour of local workplaces.
The tour is unique in that it is a local, youth driven employment initiative.
“There seems to be minimal education, connection and communication between people (locally-based employers) and what students should be pursuing in terms of job opportunities, so we’re going to explore the city as a whole and look at all the different industries, businesses, fields and career paths future and current students can pursue,” said Aksel Pollari, a third-year Algoma University biology student, speaking to SooToday.
“Today we’re going to JD Aero and learn what it’s like to be an aviation mechanic or technician. After all, we have an airport and I only hear amazing things about the aviation program at Sault College, and lots of people don’t know about it (opportunities in the aviation industry). It’s quite a large business but most people don’t know it is a large business.”
The JD Aero visit will be followed by fact-finding excursions to OLG, Algoma Steel, Tenaris, Arauco and AECOM over the next seven weeks.
“We want to help those industries get the word out to the public, people who would be interested in those career pathways (informing local current and future post-secondary students there are jobs available, and what qualifications are needed in order to be hired after graduation),” Pollari said.
Videos of the various workplaces on the tour schedule will be compiled, uploaded to social media platforms, and students will also be informed through presentations in local secondary and post-secondary schools.
The student team plans to cap off the tour and information gathered through it by holding a job fair (to be held May 30 in cooperation with local school boards) at The Machine Shop.
Pollari said attention will be paid to skilled trades in addition to academically-oriented career paths.
“A lot of people say ‘after school, I’ll go to Barrie, and it’s like ‘why?’ There’s a lot of opportunity in the Sault we feel people aren’t aware of and we’re going to try and bridge these communication gaps.”
“That’s our bus, we’re going to really hype this up and hopefully this will be held in the community each year,” Pollari enthused.
“Ross has been really passionate about it,” Pollari said, the Algoma University student adding he fully intends to live and work in the Sault and area after graduation.
“I can’t live in a concrete jungle, with a subway.”
The youth employment initiative stemmed from a recent meeting Romano held with JD Aero officials.
“I was trying to figure out a way to get the larger student community in all the schools to know about it (local employment options). Through that process of brainstorming, little by little it manifested into the tour,” Romano said.
Every visit to a local employer will be held using the bus, Romano said.
“The bus for me is a critical part. We can be more effective as a committee, on the bus. It’s where we’re going to have a laugh, have fun, have discussions, gel as a team and then take our message out to the rest of the students in our community.”
Twelve students in total (two students from each of the Sault’s high schools, two from Algoma University and two from Sault College) will be boarding the bus and visiting local employers on their fact-finding employment mission.
The message, Romano said, is essentially ‘you can go to school in the Sault and get a good paying job locally after graduation.’
“100 per cent. This is about keeping our kids at home, making sure our youth know they don’t have to go away, that there are excellent opportunities at home with great remuneration, be able to live, work and play in Sault Ste. Marie and raise their families here.”