Why take technological education?
The Hamilton Spectator file photo
Students exposed to trades at an early age are more likely to enter those professions. Training of this nature in school produces accountable adults, writes Reece Morgan.
By Reece Morgan
Students within Ontario live in a society that is in the midst of rapid and pervasive change. This change is exemplified by the increasing diversity of our population, shifts in family structure, changing expectations in the workplace and financial uncertainty.
Demands have risen at both provincial and local levels to make our education system more accountable. The public, parents in particular want to know what the school system is doing to prepare students for a changing present and increasingly uncertain future. They also want to know how successful schools are in this preparation.
Many programs and initiatives have taken place over the course of the last few years with the hope of benefiting the adolescents in their transition into the labour market. Young persons entering into the world of work confront choices and pressures not experienced by previous generations. Schools, therefore have had to address the needs of young adults as they enter the world of work.
In a changing labour market, schools must provide timely and appropriate information in order to motivate students. Students also need to acquire the knowledge, attitudes and skills to enable them to make choices that will broaden their career opportunities. Improved support will therefore be needed to assist students making the transition from elementary to secondary school and moving from the transition years to future courses in secondary school and beyond. By exposing students to technological education, the school system is providing opportunities for students to build self-confidence to face change and encourage development of skills that will be required by future employers.
We have seen the closing of elementary shop programs over the past years and we are now seeing the repercussions where fewer and fewer students are pursuing skilled trades as a viable career option and still many do not have the appropriate transferable work skills including a strong work ethic that more and more employers are insisting from employees.
Growing up, either in or out of the workforce, is not just a question of getting older. It is a question of becoming fully socialized young men and women who are able to take up their respective roles in society. Experts have argued that the workforce has entered young people before they have entered the world of work. The education system must provide a broad ranging interdisciplinary curriculum and should aim to educate young people at an early age that technological education is good for both the individual and the community.
Technological education, including opportunities such as the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), Specialist High Skills Major, and all forms of experiential learning, have helped give young people a starting point in realizing the value of work and that it transcends financial implications and becomes necessary for the whole person. These programs provide the opportunity for new and enriching experiences which complement classroom learning. By promoting greater involvement at an earlier age in these programs, it is believed that students will develop sound employment skills along with appropriate expectations and attitudes toward work from their experiences.
These programs help prepare students for a changing world by demonstrating that a career is not just an occupational destination, but rather a lifelong journey that includes varied and changing work, family and community roles. Taking technological education and all forms of experiential learning including OYAP, it can show students how to recognize and create opportunities, make informed choices and pursue their career goals more effectively.
Reece Morgan is an Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program consultant with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.