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School To Work Program

The School to Work (STW) program is a four-year pilot program initiated by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Office of Education that is now beginning its third year of operation. The program was started as a means of addressing high school completion rates, post-secondary continuation rates and labour force participation rates of First Nations students.

Because First Nations students on-reserve have different lifestyles than urban students, the project was incorporated into three schools. Scott Collegiate was chosen in Regina due to its large Aboriginal population. Waterhen Lake and Buffalo Rivers were selected as the on-reserve test sites.

Curriculum development for the STW program incorporates First Nations curriculum into the present Saskatchewan Education curriculum and project curriculum that is aimed at smoothing the transition from the academic world to that of employment. Judy Pelly, STW Project Coordinator, says of the program, "It's a learning path linking the school to employment."

In the first year, grade nine, students are familiarized with the objectives of the program. During this time, students are introduced to a variety of career options by job shadowing the work settings of professionals. Pelly says that they also go on a number of tours of job sites and professional buildings throughout the course.

Grade 10 students are introduced to the skills required to investigate career options. Based on this knowledge, the students begin to develop personal career plans. Through industry partners, the students enter the workforce via summer employment.

Students in grade eleven are able to incorporate an on-site, out of school component. These brief employment placements provide further guidance to students on appropriate career paths.

By grade 12, the final year of the four-year program, students will have knowledge of workplace protocol, a CPR and First Aid course and the ability to assess their own career plans. "By the time they are finished grade 12," says Pelly, "they have a good idea of the direction they want to take."

Pelly says that partnerships with industry in recruiting students have been key to success of the program. She says that employers are taking an active role with the students. "We've been getting a lot of positive feedback from industry," she says. In many cases, industry leaders are encouraging students to get their certification or education by guaranteeing employment after graduation.

Another positive aspect of the program has been the increase in levels of maturity, self-esteem and responsibility of the students. The students now want to finish school and have goals for further education or employment beyond graduation. The program, says Pelly, has proven to be "a growing experience" for both students and educators.

School to work program
School to work program.

Classroom work
Classroom work.