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Yehualashet M. Otite

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am heartily thankful to Mia Wilkinson, Executive Director of IEC, for giving me the chance to write this book and for her encouragement, guidance and mentorship from start to finish. I am deeply grateful to all the people who allowed me to interview them and learn from their experiences. Specifically, I would like to thank Lisa Diamond, President and CEO of Youth in Motion, Daniela Bianco, Manager of the Office of Integrated Research Services at Hamilton Health sciences, Adam Hogan, Mentorship Plus Coordinator at Brock University Career Services, and Norm Grey, National Mentoring Director at CYBF for their support in sharing valuable resources. My gratitude also goes to Tony Mark, Beth Gibson, Susan Clarke, Susan Fazakas, Lynda Coleman and Jessica Hulette for their support in proof reading the book and providing me with constructive suggestions. I would like to thank Sherry Ramlal for taking most of the photos used in the book, Rose Biviens for producing the illustrations, and our co-op student Joshua Loretto for allowing me to use his picture on the cover of the book. Last, but not least, I would like to thank my husband Jovi Otite for his support. Yehualashet (Yohana) Otite



This publication is prepared by The Industry-Education Council of Hamilton (IEC). IEC is a not-for-profit organization devoted to advancing cooperation between business, education and government and championing innovative programs and services that help young people understand the world of work. For more information, contact us: IEC Hamilton 225 King William Street, Suite 203 Hamilton, ON L8R 1B1  905 529 4483  

© 2011 Industry-Education Council of Hamilton (IEC). All rights reserved. To obtain copies of this publication, contact us at or 905 529 4483.


Funded by


The Industry-Education Council of Hamilton would like to thank the following organizations and businesses for providing information about their programs and involvement in youth career mentorship.  Besseling Mechanical Inc.  Brock University  Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF)  Harper’s Garden Centre  Hamilton Health Sciences  Youth in Motions


Table of Content PART ONE - Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2 PART TWO- Career Mentorship: Why it Makes Sense The Role of Mentoring in Transitioning Youth from Learning to Earning……………………………………..10 Mentoring as a Workforce Development Strategy……………………………………………………………………...12 Mentoring to Promote Youth Entrepreneurship………………………………………………………………………….19 PART THREE- Youth Career Mentorship in Canada: An Overview Choosing a Pathway……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………24 The Sooner the Better: Career Mentorship for Elementary Students…………………………………….…...25 Exploring the Future: Career Mentorship for Secondary Students………………………………………..…...28 A Head Start: Career Mentorship at the Post-secondary level……………………………………………………. 35 The Path to Skills Trade: Apprenticeship………………………………………………………………………….... 37 Test Driving Careers: Work-Based Learning at Colleges and Universities……………………………..40 Career Mentoring for Disadvantage Groups……………………………………………………………………………….. 42 PART FOUR- Engaging Employers as Career Mentors and Education Partners……………………………….. 50 Mentor Recruitment…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...56 Who is Selling the Mission?.......................................................................................................56 Getting Top Management Buy-in………………………………………………………………………………………….57 Making the Business Case…………………………………………………………………………………………………….58 Locating Potential Mentors…………………………………………………………………………………………………..60 Customizing Mentors’ Involvement……………………………………………………………………………………...63 Identify Mentor Champions ………………………………………………………………………………………………...65 Mentees as Advocates………………………………………………………………………………………………………….65 Communications and Recruiting Mentors…………………………………………………………………………….68 Mentor Retention……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….73 Effective Communication……………………………………………………………………………………………………..73 Keep Mentors Motivated…………………………………………………………………………………………………… .74 Set them up for Success……………………………………………………………………………………………………….77 Meaningful Matchmaking…………………………………………………………………………………………………….81 Monitoring and Evaluation……………………………………………………………………………………………….....83 Glossary of Terms……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 86 References……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 88 7


PART ONE Introduction


“Giving these students an opportunity to experience what they want can really make a difference now, and in the future�. Diane Bajus-Harrison, Supervisor Delta Honey Bears Co-operative Pre-School


ow many of us have gotten into our career because it was what our parents told us to pursue, or because it offered good money, or just because it was the current hot trend? When people choose a career based on these factors without assessing how their interests, personalities and values match the skills that the job requires, they have a high probability of winding up in the wrong career and becoming dissatisfied with their job. People who don’t enjoy what they do are not only less likely to be productive, have low motivation and low drive to work, but they also tend to move often, contributing to high employee turnover. The need for more skilled workers is ever growing and the types of skills and knowledge needed to survive in the workplace are also evolving. As Meister and Willyard (2010) put it in their book ‘The 2020 Workplace’, collaboration, idea exchange and communication are becoming the buzz words of the future. Employees are expected to be not only performers, but also proactive contributors. A passion for continuous learning, which is “participatory, social, fun, engaging and integrated with work”, is also a key element. In other words, the future workplace will not tolerate uninterested and disengaged workers who have chosen the wrong career. Since there is an increasing demand for more highly-skilled workers, there will be little space left for those that are unprepared and poorly skilled. Preparing our youth to meet these demands is important to ensure that we have productive and prosperous citizens. It also impacts how Canada will perform in the future global knowledge-based economy. Making career choices and preparing for work are important milestones in transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. Without the appropriate direction and guidance, young people find it difficult to navigate through the options that are available to them and to choose the right 2

pathway that prepares them for their future life as working adults. New jobs and new sectors constantly emerge as the world advances and priorities change. Social media and environmental issues are good manifestations of this reality. As the diversity in education, training and employment expands, so does the complexity of the career choice process for young people. In recent years, several strategies have been introduced to increase the role of education in empowering children and adults to become productive working citizens. Linking education with careers and work is one of the strategies that is bound to assist and prepare young people for their future. Recognizing this, youth-focused agencies, secondary schools, colleges and universities have begun to integrate career exploration and experiential learning components in their curricula. These programs are aimed at helping young people to acquire meaningful work experience and prepare them for real-life working conditions. Exposure to careers and the concept of work starts early. A 2007 Workopolis poll ‘What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?’, which surveyed three Canadian generations about what they thought they wanted to be when they were children, indicates that teachers, veterinarians, doctors, firefighters and police officers are historically the ‘top-five’ dream jobs. Most children have exposure to these careers because of their visibility in their daily life encounters, so it is not surprising that these careers make the top of the list. The survey has also noted that, with the present generation, reality shows and TV series have impacted teenagers’ career aspirations, increasing the popularity of jobs like forensic scientist, interior designer and personal trainer. This demonstrates that the high profile nature of some careers can make them unusually appealing and catapult them to the top of a preference list when they might not be considered otherwise. It may be unrealistic to think that everyone will find their ‘true calling’, but with early career exploration and awareness, it is possible for young people to find something that matches their interest, skills, aspirations and goals. Some people never have the opportunity for this type of personal discovery, and after they have settled into a career for a few years, they realize that they actually don’t like what they do. Some take brave steps and make midlife career changes, but for many people, that type of change is emotionally and financially 3

unrealistic and even intimidating. So the question is: how can young people make informed decisions and invest in their future, with a clear understanding of what they want and where they are going? A student in Grade 8 might think being a Forensic Scientist is the coolest thing ever after watching an episode of CSI, but how could she explore this career to find out if it is something she should pursue? Where could the student have the opportunity to say, “I see myself doing that” or alternatively “It isn’t for me”? If she decides to become a Forensic Scientist, how will the student prepare herself to take the right steps that will enable her to achieve that goal? This is where career mentorship and work-based learning can play a vital role. These concepts are based on the principle of experiential learning or ‘learning by doing’, a proven method that involves the student in the process of becoming broadly educated and finding practical meaning in the study subject. Work-based learning refers to the knowledge or skill acquisition that takes place exclusively in the workplace. Career mentorship has a broader meaning, referring to any career-focused guidance and support that experienced individuals can give to inexperienced youth. This can take place in many different settings including the classroom, the workplace and on the Internet. Bozeman and Feeney (2007) define career mentoring as “the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development;…, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less (the protégé).” In this book, the term career mentorship covers a range of formally structured programs that involve the commitment of an individual or a business to provide guidance and support to young people in discovering and exploring the world of work. The term refers to all programs that are run by both educational institutions and other youth-serving organizations, which means the target group of these programs can be both in-school and out-of-school youth. Duration of the mentoring activity can range from short-term (e.g., career talks, career fairs, job shadowing), medium-term (e.g., one to four weeks work placement) to long-term (e.g., cooperative education, internship, apprenticeship). 4

These various activities are seen as mentoring opportunities that allow young people: to discover and explore different careers; to develop occupational skills and attitudes; to boost their academic achievements; and to assess their skills, abilities and interests. When career mentorship happens in the workplace, learning takes place outside the conventional classroom and the youth interacts with employers, acquiring hands-on, real life work experience. This type of learning is referred as ‘workplace learning’, ‘work-based learning’ or ‘work-integrated learning’. Employers are the critical partners in the provision of these mentoring opportunities. They play the key role by welcoming young people into their workplace and allowing their employees to be career mentors. Strong partnership between schools and the community (business, industry, social service organizations, government and professional associations) is a key factor for successful career mentoring programs. Where education and business partnerships already exist, young people have opportunities to glimpse the application of their studies in real-life working environments, while they are still in high school, college or university. Strengthening these partnerships and building new ones are crucial steps in responding to not only the learning needs of young people but also the escalating shortage of skilled workers. Even though there is a range of literature and several guides on general mentoring programs, specific information on career mentoring for youth is not abundantly available. When career mentoring is discussed, it is more often about in-house programs within an organization where an employee who is experienced mentors and guides a colleague who is less experienced. This book - Engaging Employers in Youth Career Mentorship - fills this gap. The book aspires to be a one-stop resource for those who are interested in youth career mentorship programs. It is prepared as a guide for professionals who work towards engaging employers and community members as mentoring partners for young people. Part Two of this book sets the conceptual framework, focusing on what career mentorship means and how it benefits young people as well as organizations and individuals who dedicate their time to be mentors. Part Three provides an overview of youth career mentorship 5

initiatives in Canada, emphasizing commendable programs that are presently active and successful. Readers who are specifically interested in engaging employers as career mentors can jump straight to Part Four, which provides tips on how to engage community members at both the organization and individual level, focusing on mentor recruitment and retention strategies. People wanting concrete examples of employer experiences in career mentoring youth may begin by reading some of the case studies.


“The benefits to me professionally have been enormous. Many of the students have produced work that is publishable or has been pilot work essential to getting grants and continuing research�. Dr. Alison Fox-Robichaud, Associate Professor, Division of Critical Care McMaster University, Mentor for Hamilton Health Sciences High School Bursary Program


PART TWO Career Mentoring: Why it Makes Sense


“Take your part in building our future and in the future the students will bring up your name�. Naseem Jamil, Owner T & R Auto Service


The Role of Mentoring in Transitioning Youth from Learning to Earning


entoring is a concept in which adults pass their knowledge and values on to young people. Organizations like Big Brothers and Big Sisters have adopted this time-honoured practice and have used it to develop formal programs to support ‘at-risk’ youth in our contemporary society. Research has shown that long-term and high-quality mentoring relationships between an adult and a young person benefits both involved. As Lerner (2007) puts it, mentorship helps young people build life skills and contributes to “positive youth development: the Five C’s of competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring and, as well, the “sixth C” of contribution to self and society.” Mentorship that is geared towards developing awareness about careers and work also plays an important role in facilitating positive youth development and healthy transition from adolescence to adulthood. Research shows that when young people are engaged in meaningful work and activities, they are more likely to have a well laid out plan for their future and are less likely to be involved in risky behaviours (Taylor and Bresslor, 2000). Mentoring that allows students to observe the application of their academic studies in the real world has a huge significance in creating meaningful learning experiences. Take a quick flashback to your high school years. While solving an algebra equation, you might have wondered “Why am I learning this? When will I ever use this in real life?” If you were lucky, your teacher or an adult might have explained to you that solving math equations actually helps in developing real life problem solving skills. You might have found this explanation out of touch since it may not have shown you the application in real life situations. Imagine if you had been able to spend a day with an engineer, an architect, a computer programmer, a financial advisor, or an accountant? How would that have changed your view about math? 10

Today’s students face the same challenges when trying to understand the relevance of their academic courses in real life conditions. Not being able to answer the question, “Why am I learning this?” can lead to a lack of motivation. A study conducted to understand the perspectives of those who leave school early indicates that one of the underlying reasons for dropping out is the inability to link education with future employment (Beekman, 1987). In Canada, one in seven post-secondary students consider dropping out during their freshman year and one of the major reasons is that they feel they have chosen the wrong program (Hamilton Spectator, 2011). Work-based learning that creates opportunities for young people to connect with professionals and acquire hands-on experience plays a vital role in helping students clarify their interests and avoid making these wrong choices. Even though experiential learning opportunities like co-operative education have traditionally been used more for technology and business studies, over the years, the benefits of this method have been recognized by other fields of study as well. Learning experiences that situate students inside the workplace have proven to help all types of learners make informed career choices and acquire skills, knowledge and attitudes that are important to succeed in life (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2000). According to a study that analyzed various literature on the impact of career exploration and mentorship programs on student success in Ontario, high school programs like co-operative education, apprenticeship and other activities that allow the student to interact with the real world outside of school, have proven to positively impact students. Not only does it increase career awareness but it also improves “psycho-social outcomes in terms of self-esteem, engagement in workplace or schools, socialization and leadership and motivation” (Canadian Council on Learning, 2009). When students understand how a concept is applied in their own life or work environment, they tend to engage and take more responsibility in their learning. This newly found interest helps them achieve their academic and employment goals. Supporting these premises, a report from Organizations for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) titled ‘From Initial Education to Working life: Making Transitions Work’, summarizes the benefits of work-integrated mentoring that allow young people to combine 11

education with work experience as follows:  It can allow young people and employers to get to know one another. This can help to make both young people’s job search and employers’ recruitment more efficient.  It can facilitate job search, because young people with work experience are believed to have acquired important generic work skills as well as positive attitudes and habits.  It can improve the efficiency, effectiveness and pleasure of learning by providing opportunities for contextual and applied learning.  Depending upon its nature it can be essential in developing expert skills which cannot be acquired, or cannot be acquired as well, in the classroom.  It can have a positive impact upon the firm as a learning organization through the additional skills and knowledge gained by young people’s infirm trainers and mentors (OECD, 2000).

Mentoring as a Workforce Development Strategy We have heard a lot about the workforce shortage that is anticipated to occur in the next ten years. Employers understand that their most experienced employees are from the babyboomer generation, and they will soon be waving goodbye as they head off for retirement. What have employers done to ensure that their business is able to carry on when the surplus labour pool vanishes? Can they afford to sit back as mere onlookers, leaving the responsibility of preparing their future employees to the education system? One of the major purposes of education is to prepare youth for the world of work. As more educators realize that schools cannot achieve this goal by themselves, they are seeking to partner with the business community. This arrangement perfectly positions employers to take part in young people’s education, developing their skills in ways that will respond to their own future human resource needs. Canada, like many developed countries, has been experiencing changes in its workforce dynamics. As it is described in the analysis series: ‘The Changing Profile of Canada’s Labour Force’, the three factors that are affecting Canada’s workforce are: “the demand for skills in the face of advancing technologies and the ‘knowledge-based economy’; a working-age 12

population that is increasingly made up of older people; and a growing reliance on immigration as a source of skills and labour force growth� (Statistics Canada, 2003). On the one hand, statistics show that youth unemployment rate is very high (14.4%), with the number of young people entering the workforce declining and is expected to decline more in the future. On the other hand, employers complain about labour shortage, especially about finding employees with the right skill set needed in the current, knowledge-driven workplace. As a report by The Conference Board of Canada indicates, this mismatch in the supply-demand matrix of the labour market indicates that there is a gap between the skills and knowledge young people are acquiring from their education, and the skills and knowledge employers are looking for in potential hires. Experts are saying that linking work with education is the ultimate way to enable Canadian employers to get involved in helping to prepare their future workforce, giving them the opportunity to mentor and train their future employees (Kitagawa, 2002). Canadian employers cannot fully utilize our untapped youth as part of a reliable human resource unless all the economic partners including business, government, educational institutions, community and labour organizations work hand-in-hand. These partnerships are instrumental in ensuring that young people have the right resources to enable them to smoothly transition from school to work (Kitagawa, 2002). Even though educators have emphasized the importance of the employers’ role in mentoring students through programs like co-operative education, work placements and apprenticeship, the participation rate in these initiatives has not yet increased at the necessary pace. Educational institutions and youth-serving organizations face fierce competition to respond to young peoples’ demand for mentorship placements and usually struggle to meet their mentor recruitment goals. For instance, even though employers report that hiring apprentices benefits them in recruiting and retaining quality employees, a 2011 report by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum indicates that only 19% of employers hire apprentices in key industries. The rate was 18% in 2006, which indicates that employer participation overall has remained relatively constant in the past six years (CAF-CFA, 2011). This indicates that educational institutions, labour organizations, government and business-education partnership brokers 13

still have more work to do to increase employer awareness of the importance of their roles as mentors for valuable current and future workforce development. Research shows that mentoring youth can contribute to the future workforce development by exposing students to what it takes to become successful and responsible working adults, who actually enjoy what they do. Recognizing the importance of preparing their future workforce, smart and farsighted companies are already engaging in attracting young people into their industries. Miester and Willyard (2010) cite some innovative businesses that are actively developing their future employees today. “Precollege employer outreach programs” that engage students in elementary and secondary schools are being used as early strategies to build company brands, especially in occupations where employers are expecting high skills shortages. As an example of such initiatives Miester and Willyard name Deloitte’s ‘Life, Inc.: ‘The Ultimate Career Guide for Young People’ and Lockheed Martin’s ‘Engineers in the Classroom Curriculum’ as exemplary models of forward-looking companies responding to potential talent shortages. In addition to promoting their business and industry to the next generation, some corporations are also using mentoring as one way of involving their employees in corporate social responsibility. IBM Mentorplace, which is a structured online mentoring program, connecting students with IBM employees, is a good example. As described on IBM’s website, through this “…volunteer program, thousands of IBM employees around the world are providing students with online academic assistance and career counseling, while letting them know that adults do care about their issues and concerns.” Several Canadian employers are preparing their future workforce, by partnering with educators and youth-serving organizations at different levels. Among the exemplary organizations that implement innovative approaches in career mentoring young people is Hamilton Health Sciences, an institution that is leading the way in preparing Canada’s future workforce in the health and science sector.


Nurturing Tomorrow’s Healthcare Workers: Hamilton Health Sciences Ever wonder what makes Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) one of Canada’s top 100 employers? Among the various reasons, the organization’s visionary investment in preparing the future healthcare workforce is worth noting. Shortage of healthcare professionals has been a national concern for some time. As part of its strategy to tackle this challenge, HHS has taken farsighted measures and has invested in today’s young people. Since 1989, the corporation has been involved in various mentoring initiatives, from offering co-op placements to hosting school tours to participating in Take Our Kids to Work Day. These contributions that focus on attracting youth to the healthcare industry earned the organization a Passport to Prosperity Employer Champion Awards both in 2006 and 2010. The three HHS initiated programs discussed below explain how HHS is leading in strategically preparing the future workforce at different levels.

The Healthcare Support Services Program This program sets a unique example for all industry leaders. Aiming at exposing students to careers in healthcare support, Hamilton Health Sciences approached the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board in 2004. The program’s objective is to enable students gain knowledge and skills in customer support services, both in the classroom and in the skills lab, located at The Learning Centre at Chedoke Hospital in Hamilton. Chiropractorturned-teacher, Teresa Anziano, who coordinates the program, underlined that the program is unique, because the students are ‘trained with the staff and do what the staff do’, including having real-life ‘patient interaction’. Teresa believes that the program is a great asset for the healthcare sector ‘in getting the youth interested in careers in healthcare at all levels, not just in becoming nurses or doctors’. The students are paired with workplace mentors during their co-op placement in varying shifts in preparation for real life hospital activities and schedules. As Teresa noted, if they are lured to healthcare by ‘ER’ or ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, this hands-on experience gives them a reality check and helps them decide if they could handle the real responsibilities. Focusing on what HHS is looking for in an employee, human resource explanations and mock interviews are undertaken to improve the students’ employability. The program provides a great opportunity for those students, who plan to transition directly from school-to-work. HHS has hired many of the students, who were trained and certified by the program as Environmental Aides and Porters. The benefit of hiring these students for HHS is simply having access to trained and informed workers, who are passionate about the work. Romaine Sheriff, Manager of Student Operations at HHS, sums it up: ‘It is a part of our job to support learners. It is also a recruitment opportunity for us in both long term and short term.’


In the Mentee’s Words… “If I didn’t have this opportunity, I wouldn’t have known if career options like Environmental Aide exist. For students who want to join the workforce directly from high school, this is a great opportunity. For those who want to pursue a healthcare career; it is a good eye opener because they can have the chance to see the different kinds of jobs in the hospital”. Brittany AcAloney Hired as an Environmental Aide at HHS after attending the program in 2009.


High School Health Research Bursary Program The High School Health Research Bursary Program pairs senior high school students, who are interested in pursuing or have been accepted into a university or college level science program, with research mentors from internationally renowned research programs at Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. Funding provided by the Ministry of Research and Innovation enabled an outreach expansion across the province of Ontario. Contributions from corporate donors provide financial resources to award $1,500 to participating students. Lisa Kellenberger, who was among the first bursary recipients in 2004, is now entering her fourth year of a PhD program in biomedical science at the University of Guelph. Even though she knew she had an interest in health science, she wasn’t really sure what a health scientist does. The mentorship program, therefore, was a perfect opportunity for her to explore her interest and eventually decide what courses and career path she wanted to take. Working in the lab alongside her mentor, Dr. Allison Holloway, not only confirmed her interest in this field, but it has also provided her with a unique opportunity to gain valuable experience, which later helped her to receive substantial graduate funding. Lisa now volunteers as a mentor herself in the Health Research Under the Microscope Program , another youth program offered by Hamilton Health Sciences.

In the Mentor’s Words…

“The benefits to me professionally have been enormous. Many of the students have produced work that is publishable or has been pilot work essential to getting grants and continuing research. Personally it has been extremely rewarding to watch these young people grow and to provide them with an environment to discuss their careers and plans.” Dr. Alison Fox-Robichaud, Associate Professor, Division of Critical Care, McMaster University “The initial investment in training the students in my lab has given me students to work for me for 5 years. That helps in keeping the research moment in my lab. The program is also enabling HHS to build capacity and attract the brightest students to this area. It is also making Hamilton a leader in building the next generation of top researchers.” Dr. Alison Holloway, Associate Professor Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McMaster University “It is interesting to work with high school students. Their lack of technical expertise is balanced by their enthusiasm. They come with an open mind to learn. The program gives you the opportunity to get them interested in your research. You are developing their work ethic and culture, with the hope that 10 years down the line, they will come back to work for your institution.” Dr. Sandeep Raha, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University 17

Health Research Under the Microscope Program Held at McMaster University, this annual ‘speed mentoring’ symposium hosts over 250 high school students and teacher chaperones from across Ontario. Hosted by Hamilton Health Sciences, in partnership with St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University, this program allows participants to interact face-to-face with research mentors from a wide range of professions, sharing education experiences and work-life balance and career achievements. In addition, youth and chaperones came to appreciate the level of research activity conducted in Hamilton that better equips them for selecting future academic studies. Both the High School Health Research Bursary Awards and Health Research Under the Microscope youth programs are exemplary and innovative initiatives in developing Canada’s future workforce in health, sciences and research. These programs provide a win-win environment by first, developing new talent aligned with provincial and federal strategic priorities; second, by providing an opportunity for youth to engage in health science and technology experiences early in their post-secondary career choice ; and third, by providing sustainable and affordable recruitment services for Hamilton researchers, who are participating in these programs as mentor. Daniela Bianco, Manager of the Office of Integrated Research Services at HHS confirms that these programs are “a jewel for Hamilton – proven recruitment tools that provide a platform for training and preparing the next generation of careers related to health science research”.

In the Mentees’ Words… “My mentor has encouraged me to apply for scholarships and has supported my applications. She has gone out of her way to introduce me to many of her colleagues, including my current supervisor. Over the last seven years, she has given me advice on everything from education to relationships to food and wine.” Lisa Kellenberger, 2004 Bursary Recipient “It has been an absolutely enriching and rewarding experience, by introducing me to new and different areas of science one would not normally get exposed to and allowing me to acquire practical lab expertise. The hands-on experience has helped me develop skill sets that have been very useful in completing university science labs with precision and accuracy.” Alya Bhimiji, 2007 Bursary Recipient “The experience in this program had a profound effect on the decisions I made regarding my education and future career. The positive experience in the laboratory of Dr. Fox-Robichaud solidified my decision to pursue a career in medical research. In fact, I enjoyed the research in this lab so much that I chose to complete my graduate studies with Dr. Fox-Robichaud.” Paulina Kowalewska, 2004 Bursary Recipient “The HHS bursary placement has certainly exposed me to a new and deeper understanding of scientific research. Spending a second consecutive summer in the lab has enabled me to continue learning and exploring health related research - confirming my love for the sciences and my commitment to pursue health and science-related fields in the future.” Rebecca Stepita, 2010 Bursary Recipient 18

Mentoring to Promote Youth Entrepreneurship According to Canada’s National Youth Entrepreneur Social Attitude and Innovation Study (2008), young people are more inclined to follow traditional forms of employment than taking entrepreneurial or self-employment routes. This is not necessarily because they prefer to work for an established business rather than being their own boss. More likely, it is because of the challenges that are associated with entrepreneurial careers. Lack of start-up funds is cited as a major barrier. However, according to the study, young people also mentioned that even if they had the financial capacity, they view entrepreneurship as a risky and unstable venture, because of their lack of business and entrepreneurial skills. While it is crucial to address these issues by creating opportunities for youth to learn about entrepreneurial pathways starting at early age (elementary and secondary schools), providing guidance and support to those that are embarking on starting their own business is fundamental. In Canada, there are some organizations that provide both financial support and mentorship to young entrepreneurs. In this section, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), a charitable organization dedicated to supporting young entrepreneurs (aged 18-34), is highlighted as an exemplary model to showcase the role of mentorship in helping young people turn their dreams into successful businesses. 19

The Role of Mentoring in Bringing a Business Idea to Life: A Case from CYBF Dr. Kelly Bruchall is among the 4,500 young Canadians who have established successful businesses with financial and mentorship support from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF). As a young chiropractor who recently set up his own business in Hamilton, he experienced some ‘rocky patches’ in his first year in business. He was confident in the practical portion of his business, which is providing chiropractic services, but he felt he needed guidance in how to run and market his business successfully. He needed input from someone with a marketing background and someone successful in business. Through CYBF’s mentorship program, he was matched with Sandy Alfonsi, owner of AlfonsiTorosantucci Insurance Ltd., who has provided him with the guidance he was looking for. Within a year, his revenue increased and he attained the goals that he had set up. What is in it for his mentor Alfonsi? She said on top of the satisfaction she gets from seeing someone grow and become successful, she has been able to analyze and improve her business practice based on her observations while playing the mentoring role. A national charity established in 1996, CYBF have invested in several young Canadians like Dr. Bruchall, who have established successful businesses in different parts of Canada. Since then, according to CYBF’s annual report, these young entrepreneurs have generated more than 17,850 new jobs, $125 million in tax revenue, and hundreds of millions of dollars in sales and export revenues. What makes CYBF’s program unique is that its approach is centreed on providing support, focusing on the entire “business life-cycle from pre-launch planning, to start-up, to implementation”. Partnering with the Business Development Bank of Canada, CYBF provides financial support of up to $50,000 in start-up financing and up to $30,000 in expansion financing. The financing repayment rate is 94%. According to Norm Grey, National Mentoring Director at CYBF, this success is credited to the contributions of mentors in the program. Sandy Alfonsi, agrees saying, “They just don’t hand the money. They also provide the tools that many people need to start a business. They make them accountable and make sure they are successful.” Mentors are business professionals who possess extensive entrepreneurial experience. The mentors’ role is to provide tangible business advice as well as support and encouragement for a minimum of two years to help the mentee focus on important strategies for the success of the business.



PART THREE Youth Career Mentorship in Canada: An Overview



Choosing a Pathway


ven though exiting from high school is expected to be followed by entering into college, university, apprenticeship or employment, studies show that Canadian youth navigate through these pathways in a non-linear manner (OECD, 2000). This means rather than choosing one pathway and sticking with it, students vacillate from one option to another until they ultimately make a decision. For example, a high school graduate may decide to work for a while and then decide to go to college after a year or two. Another example could be a university student changing gears midway through his program and enrolling in a college program. Choosing a pathway and eventually a career is a process that involves complex selfassessment and understanding of a variety of occupations, industry and labour market trends. Young people should think about work and start exploring their options earlier rather than later. Part of their assessment needs to involve the participation of trusted adults to help them in evaluating their strengths and navigate through this important phase in their lives. While having course flexibility in school allows them to change and combine pathways, career information, mentorship and guidance are important in preventing learners from making a prolonged investment in a path that they would have avoided, had they had the right awareness and direction. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a paper in 2000 entitled ‘From Initial Education to Working Life: Making Transitions Work’, reviewing school-to-work transition trends in 14 OECD member countries. According to the report, by then, Canada fell behind other Western European Countries when it came to the institutionalization of school-to-work initiatives. Historically speaking, Canada focused on general education pathways because a smaller proportion of the labour market was occupationally organized. As a result, career guidance was more likely oriented to encourage young people towards college and university. 24

This has changed immensely in the past decade with strategies now targeted at helping students tailor their education to their individual strengths, goals and interests. Facilitation of school-to-work transition has been given more emphasis and is now seen as a significant factor in decreasing dropout rates both in high school and post-secondary levels. Whether the students’ future plan involves apprenticeship, college, university or workplace, the goal is to enable them to successfully finish their secondary schooling and have meaningful learning experiences. Despite this encouraging development, there are still lingering misconceptions that one pathway might have a superior outcome over the other (e.g., university over apprenticeship). Research shows that all pathways can lead to successful transition outcomes and better labour market results if they are designed in a way that supports lifelong learning (OECD, 2000). The next subsections discuss Canada’s emerging developments in preparing youth for the workforce and look at initiatives at different educational stages, including the elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels.

The Sooner the Better: Career Mentorship at the Elementary Level As mentioned in the introduction of this book, career awareness should start at an early age. Children first learn about careers at home by beginning to understand what their parents do and further exposure is gained in the community at schools, hospitals, construction sites, police and fire stations and so on. Elementary school age is the ideal time to get young children exposed to careers and to start building sets of skills that gradually instill a positive attitude about work. Career education and guidance are now an integral part of school in Canada. Ontario elementary schools, for example, have integrated career education and guidance programs that are planned to align with the curriculum to provide an “opportunity for students to learn how to work independently (including homework completion), to cooperate with others, to resolve conflicts with others, to participate in class, to solve problems, and to set goals to improve their work” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 1999). The Ministry also encourages schools to help their students develop both educational and career plans. Teachers are 25

mandated to integrate career awareness and career exploration activities in their classrooms by inviting partners in the community to design and implement these initiatives. There are many ways that businesses can partner with elementary schools to expose children to the world of work, including participating in career talks, career fairs, workplace tours and job shadowing. Schools are expected to make connections in their community to utilize these career exploration activities. Intermediary organizations that facilitate these types of community involvement are also in existence. For example, the Industry-Education Council of Hamilton (IEC) runs programs, namely, Speakers Bureau and Workplace Tour that recruit volunteer employers and professionals in Hamilton, Ontario to provide career talks and workplace tours for both elementary and secondary students. Similar work is also being undertaken in other cities by like-minded organizations. For example, in Manitoba, a non-profit organization called Career Trek “offers kids hands-on experience in different careers, which gets them excited about one day going to university, college or taking part in an apprenticeship. It also helps them figure out what professions they would enjoy, and which ones they might not�(, 2010) 26

“These opportunities give students an idea of what the workforce is really going to be like. Co-op is not like a school environment, it is a workforce and we try and treat them as an employee�. Stewart Henderson, Certified Welder Advanced Welding Techniques


Exploring the Future: Career Mentorship at the Secondary Level When it comes to career planning and career exploration initiatives, Canada’s secondary level educational systems generally render promising practices, even though the delivery mode and extent varies from one province to the other. According to Taylor (2007), the following are some of the trends in provincial policies related to preparing high school students for the world of work:  Career education and planning in high school is integrated as a component of student success programs.  Students are mandated to participate in some form of community involvement.  Co-operative education is a common practice.  High school apprenticeship programs are established in almost all provinces.  Industry-education partnerships are in existence. Co-operative education, classroom career talks, job shadowing, job twinning, apprenticeship and work experience are some of the experiential learning activities that are commonplace in Canadian high schools, all aimed at maximizing student potential and preparing them for work. Virtual work experience and eCo-op are also being used for appropriate fields of study where students undertake a project and work by corresponding with their mentors via e-mail. Of all of these options, co-operative education is the most widely used and recognized program in Canada. Co-op requires employers to host students at their workplace and involve them in real job tasks for 3-6 hours per day for a semester. This makes co-op a highly suitable venue for employers and young people to develop a mentorship relationship. Some provinces have taken an extra step in making these experiential learning platforms more meaningful by implementing innovative strategies. For example, in Ontario, as part of the Ministry of Education’s Student Success Strategy, two programs have been introduced: the Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM) and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). SHSM programs allow students to customize their learning to suit their interests and “gain sector-specific skills and knowledge in engaging, career- related learning environments, and prepare in a focused way for graduation and post-secondary education, training, or employment.” An SHSM course bundles a minimum of eight and a maximum of ten credits, 28

Cultivating the Future Workforce in Horticulture The Horticulture and Landscaping Specialist High Skills Major Program is one of the many SHSM programs that are available in different high schools in Ontario. Harper’s Garden Centre in Hamilton, Ontario participates in the program by partnering with the two School Boards. Dominic Hagger, production Manager at Harper’s Garden Centre, said that they have been taking co-op students who are interested in careers that involve working with plants. Having discovered his fascination in horticulture under the tutelage of his grandmother’s gardener, Dominic believes that mentoring the next generation is important for the development of the sector. Dominic said, had it not been for that gardener’s willingness to share his knowledge with him, he might not have decided to go to a Horticulture College later on to pursue a career in this field. When he accepts co-op students and embraces them as part of the Harper’s Garden crew, Dominic hopes he and the team will trigger that same interest in the students and enable them to make an informed decision about whether they want to work or continue their post secondary education further developing their skills. Dominic asserts that as long as the students have an interest in horticulture and love to work outdoors, the advantage of mentoring works for both sides. Dominic has noticed that students who are in the Horticulture and Landscaping SHSM program are easy to manage and guide. Through the SHSM program, the students are already familiar with the concepts of plant science, greenhouse structures, propagation and landscape design. This makes it easier for employers like Dominic to take the students and provide them with an environment where they can utilize what they learn in class in a real life workplace. When Kristen Sandvall, from Saltfleet Secondary School, joined Harper’s Garden team to do her placement, they were experiencing a shortage in their workforce. Dominic said ‘Kristen is steady and works very fasts. She is trained, so we didn’t have to hand hold her. She also enjoys what she does, which is why she volunteers to work more even after she is done with her placement’.


including co-operative education courses where students are able to interact with workplace career mentors, who will assist them to practice and extend their knowledge in the specific sector they choose (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010). According to the Ministry’s progress report, in 2010-11 academic year, around 28,000 Grade 11 and 12 students participated in SHSM programs. This number is expected to grow to more than 34,000 in the coming academic year (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2011). Sector-specific programs, like SHSMs that incorporate co-operative education, haven’t yet developed in other provinces; however, there are some initiatives that promote pathways in certain sectors. In Alberta, for example, The Green Certificate Program allows farm personnel to train students on the job, providing them with opportunities to enter a variety of Agriculture-related careers. Students can earn a credential that leads to a career in agribusiness and receive a technician-level Green Certificate issued by Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development. Other programs in Alberta that engage employers as career mentors and prepare students for the future are Career and Technology Studies (CTS) and Work Experience Courses, which allow students “to explore a wide range of career options in technical and trade areas, learn marketable skills and gain work experience”(Alberta Education, 2011). High school apprenticeship programs have also flourished in recent years, specifically as a response to the nation-wide labour shortage in the skilled trades and the lack of awareness in recognizing apprenticeship as a feasible and acceptable pathway for students. The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), for instance, is a school-to-work program that allows Grade 11 or 12 students to be trained on the job in an apprenticeable skilled trade occupation. While they are training, they are also earning co-operative education credits and meeting their diploma requirements. Upon completion, students can become registered apprentices and work towards becoming certified journeypersons. Alberta launched a similar program called Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) in 1991, which allows students to start their apprenticeship training while in high school, selecting from more than 50 designated trades and occupations and earning up to 40 credits towards their diploma. Unlike Ontario’s OYAP, Alberta’s RAP allows students to get paid at least minimum wage as a part-time worker. Similar programs exist in other provinces: 30

“It is a win-win situation and worth the venture. More employers should be involved if they want to get employees that will grow with them�. Robert Besseling, Besseling Mechanical Inc.


Building the Future of Construction: Besseling Mechanical Inc. Roughly, 317,000 new construction workers will be needed in Canada by 2017 to replace retirees, according to the Construction Sector Council (Dimensions, 2010). In Hamilton, Ontario, construction is one of the 10 sectors that the Hamilton Training Advisory Board has identified as a promising area of future employment. Most specifically there will be abundant work for special trade contractors. Besseling Mechanical Inc., a plumbing and heating contractor in Hamilton, is one of the workplaces that have partnered with the Boards of Education to provide students with opportunities for learning and apprenticeship training. Robert Besseling and his partners Cameron and Phil Besseling have embraced this idea and have given co-op and OYAP students the chance to be part of their team for the last 10 years. Mentored to enter the trade by his family since he was 12 years old, Robert believes that involving young people at an early age is important because of the nature of the sector. ‘You don’t just jump into construction. You can’t just come out of high school and say I love it. If you are going to make a career out of it, you have to see and feel it first.’ He sees OYAP as a great opportunity to attract young people to the trade and help meet the needs of the skilled trade shortage. In this regard, Besseling Mechanical has already been reaping what they sow as they have hired some of their mentees. Clyde Dumoulin, a journeyperson at Besseling Mechanical, agrees that the program is “good for shaping and moulding” future workers. Even if the students they train discover that the trade is not for them, Clyde and Robert are not disappointed. They see the process of discovery as advantageous for the sector, because they get to keep the people who love the trade. The students get a real-life experience, arriving at the job at 7.00 AM and handling physical tasks in often difficult weather conditions. Historically, contractors turned to the hard working farming communities to find their workforce. Robert said “young people these days don’t have that rough start” and OYAP fills this gap by preparing the students for the working conditions the sector demands. John Idzikowski and Matthew D’Amico, who were OYAP students in 2010 at Besseling Mechanical, confirm this stating that the experience is helping them adjust both physically and emotionally. Robert believes that employers in the construction sector, who are not involved in OYAP are missing out on a lot. There is much to be gained as the students have the safety certification training and their safety insurance is covered by the Ministry of Education. These make OYAP a cost effective opportunity for employers to assess students before committing to an apprenticeship. Robert sums it up, “It is a win-win situation and worth the venture. More employers should be involved if they want to get employees that will grow with them.”


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British Columbia: Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training (ACE-IT) and Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) Manitoba: High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP) and Co-operative Vocational Education (CVE) Nova-Scotia: Workit Youth Apprenticeship Initiative and Building Futures for Youth (BFY) New Brunswick: Youth Career Connections Program Prince Edward Island: Accelerated Secondary Apprenticeship Programs (ASAP) Newfoundland & Labrador: Student Transition to Educational Programs (STEP) and Skilled Trades Jump Start Your Life Nunavut: Nunavut Early Apprenticeship Training (NEAT) Northwest Territories: Schools North Apprenticeship Program (SNAP) Quebec: Vocational Education Certificate (VEC) Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Youth Apprenticeship (SYA) Yukon: Yukon Secondary School Apprenticeship Training and Yukon Government Apprentice Program (YGAP).

These high school apprenticeship programs are encouraging student interest in the skilled trades and promoting apprenticeship as a post-secondary option. Research shows, however, these programs have not yet been utilized to their full potential and student participation is not increasing at the desired rate. Negative attitude towards apprenticeship are still prevalent among teachers, guidance counsellors and parents, which has an adverse effect on the enrolment rate of the programs. A recent study, which identifies the challenges in transitioning from high school to apprenticeship, suggests that communicating the benefits of secondary apprenticeship programs with youth, parents, school personnel and employers is critical in enabling the programs to achieve their goals in increasing participation in postsecondary school apprenticeship programs (CAF-FCA, 2010). The benefit of these career exploration programs in linking learning with work is evident. Ontario , for instance, attributes its success in the graduation rate that has climbed from 68% (2003) to 85% (2011) to the student success program that includes the SHSM and OYAP programs (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2011). 33

While the programs discussed above are different from one another in delivery mode and implementation, they all call for strong partnerships between schools, post-secondary institutions and employers. Generally, employers have shown positive attitudes towards these programs and are participating and investing in youth by turning their workplaces into learning hubs for their potential future employees. The forward-thinking businesses that best understand the real returns from investing in youth establish self-initiated career mentoring, co-op and internship programs and work closely with elementary, secondary and postsecondary schools. Some inspirational examples of these Canadian businesses and organisations are documented in this book. In spite of these encouraging initiatives, students still face challenges in finding work placements. While some employers complain that they don’t know how to get involved, others are not ready to open their doors to students. As a result, promoting the programs and increasing participation of employers by bridging the gap between business and education have been seen as an important component in program success. Effective career mentoring and work-based learning requires strong coordination and facilitated, structured businessindustry partnerships. Ontario is a pioneer in establishing an intermediary body that coordinates these partnerships provincially. Passport to Prosperity is a provincial campaign, which facilitates employer involvement in experiential learning opportunities for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and seeks to empower communities to invest in their future workforce development. The campaign is supported by the Provincial Partnership Council (PPC), a volunteer advisory committee of leaders from the private, public, and voluntary sectors. Passport to Prosperity is delivered by local business-industry partnership organizations in 26 cities in Ontario, whose mandates are to help young people explore the world of work by promoting meaningful partnerships among employers and schools. The Ontario Business Education Partnership (OBEP) was established in 1999 to facilitate a network among government-supported and private sector partners. According to the Ministry of Education, the campaign has been successful in engaging 40,000 employers that are participating in work-based learning initiatives (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2011). The 34

province also officially launched the first ever Experiential Learning Week in 2010 to celebrate and champion employer involvement. The website is also being used provincially by Passport to Prosperity coordinators to connect employers with elementary and high schools students and their educators.

Similar work has been undertaken in Alberta by a non-for-profit organization - CAREERS the Next Generation - which helps to connect Alberta’s employers with schools and to promote the connection between workplace and classroom learning. Serving as a catalyst to bring industry, education, government, communities and students together to meet the challenges of youth employability and skilled labour shortage, the organization promotes career pathways to parents, students and other decision-making stakeholders (CAREERS the Next Generation, 2011).


A Head Start: Career Mentorship at the Post-Secondary Level In the last 10 years, the number of jobs requiring Post Secondary Education (PSE) graduates has doubled. The demand for university, college and apprenticeship graduates is continuously growing as baby boomers retire and new jobs are created (The Canadian Council on Learning, 2009). As a result, young people hoping to enter the labour market with post-secondary education produce better employment outcomes than those experienced by high school dropouts and high school graduates. As the workplace constantly evolves as a result of demographic change, technological developments and uncertain global economic trends, the skill set needed at the workplace is moving towards being knowledge-based and interdisciplinary. In the coming decades, industry will count on the post-secondary sector to fuel the Canadian labour market. According to the Canadian Council on Learning (2009), approximately 1.42 million university and 2.02 million college and apprenticeship graduates will be needed by the year 2015. Interestingly, on the one hand, employers hiring PSE graduates say that they are dissatisfied with new graduates’ skills and knowledge, which they view as inadequate and irrelevant to the workplace. On the other hand, recent PSE graduates who have joined the workforce have shown concern that they aren’t utilizing their skills and knowledge with full potential at the workplace (Saunders, 2008). This indicates that there is a gap between what the students are learning at school and the expectations of employers. As a response to this challenge, Canadian colleges and universities have been focusing on linking learning with work, recognizing that work-integrated learning is one method of narrowing this gap. Employers have been partnering with post-secondary institutions by participating in hiring, training, mentoring and supervising students who are enrolled in work-based learning programs. A study entitled ‘Work-Integrated Learning in Ontario’s Post-Secondary Sector’ conducted by Academia Group Inc. for the Higher Education Quality Council, describes the types of workbased learning opportunities that are currently being implemented in Canadian postsecondary institutions. While different terms are used in describing these experiential learning activities, generally the document classifies them as apprenticeship, field experience, mandatory professional practice, co-op, internships, applied research projects, and service36

learning. Though these work-based learning methods are slightly different from one another in purpose, mode of delivery, outcomes and benefits to the stakeholders involved, all but the last two need employer involvement as worksite mentors, career mentors, supervisors and evaluators (Sattler, 2011). According to Sattler’s classification, in the cases of Applied Research Projects and Service-Learning, employers play the role of clients or customers. The following part discuss these experiential learning opportunities that are available to young people in Canada. Apprenticeship is discussed separately as one platform for post-secondary career mentorship. Work-based learning opportunities like co-operative education and internships are highlighted as they apply in college and university settings.

The Path to Skilled Trade: Apprenticeship Hunter, Abugov and Ogaranko, in their article that appears on The Canadian Encyclopaedia, wrote that apprenticeship was practiced in Canada as a form of instruction in the early 19 th century; at a time when skilled tradesmen newly emigrated from Europe were the trainers. In the late 19th century, technical education was broadened and integrated into the public school system. As industrialization expanded, the need for local apprenticeship development was in high demand, which led to the formation of the first Apprenticeship Act in Ontario in 1928, followed by British Columbia in 1935 and Nova Scotia in 1936. Recognized apprenticeships are now available in all provinces for several trades within the motive power, industrial, construction and service sectors. A co-operative interprovincial standards program is also in existence to provide for acceptance of certification in all provinces for apprentices who meet the interprovincial standard. Generally, apprentices are responsible to find an employer on their own, who will sponsor and provide them with a journeyperson that will then train and mentor them. Ninety percent of the training is hands-on and takes place at the workplace. Unfortunately, many well-qualified young people in Canada who wish to take apprenticeship training are facing barriers in finding employers willing to take on the mentorship role. Studies show that there are many, sometimes contradictory, reasons for employer reluctance when it comes to hiring apprentices. The following are some of the issues raised by various authors (Stewart and Kerr, 2010; CAF-CFA, 2011): 37

Employers are unaware of the short and long term benefits of investing in apprenticeship.  The recent economic downturn has forced businesses to cut some jobs, which is affecting employers’ capacity to create apprenticeship opportunities.  Employers don’t appreciate the required in-school component that takes the apprentice away from the job. Employers would rather have the apprentice fulltime.  There are concerns that apprentices will not stay with their mentor employer after they finish the apprenticeship. The practice, which is referred to as ‘poaching’, is well known and refers to the recruitment of newly trained journeypersons away from the employers who invested in their training.


There are many government initiatives in place targeted towards increasing employer participation. Grants and financial incentives for both apprentices and employers like The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant , Apprenticeship Completion Grant, Apprentice Job Creation Tax Credit and Tradesperson’s Tools Deduction are some examples. According to The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, for every $1 spent on apprenticeship, an employer receives a benefit of $ 1.47. Despite this, the number of young people partaking in apprenticeship programs is low compared to the expected future demand and retention is a recurring concern. Youth generally don’t feel as if they have been given the necessary information in high school about vocational, trades and entrepreneurial pathways (Saunders, 2008). The perception that skilled trade jobs are risky with low salaries and little prospect for career development is prevalent among young people, parents, and educators. The high school apprenticeship programs are showing encouraging results in changing this perception. Organizations like the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA), SkilledTrades and Skills/ Compétences Canada are playing an important role in researching apprenticeship issues and providing information for parents, youth, educators and employers. For example, the employer and youth toolkits that are available on CAF’s website are great resources that present apprenticeship as a viable pathway for youth and increase employer understanding of the programs. Apprenticeship programs have the potential to positively respond to the anticipated national need for skilled manpower and to rectify the problem of the high youth unemployment rate. Studies show that in its current state, to meet these goals, the apprenticeship system in Canada will need to solve the persistent problems related to low enrolment and retention. It is also suggested that as new technologies grow and new sectors emerge, the apprenticeship system needs to be expanded to other industries such as information and communication technology, entrepreneurship and others (Stewart and Kerr, 2010). As increasing the participation rate of both apprentices and employer sponsors is critical, it is also important to create the means to link these groups to enable them to easily connect. Ontario’s online matching tool,, offers a program that helps facilitate the 39

connection between potential apprentices and employer sponsors in Ontario. It also aims at creating awareness by providing resources and information on apprenticeship and the skilled trades.

Test Driving Careers: Work-Based Learning at Colleges and Universities Work-integrated learning is becoming prevalent in universities and colleges in the form of co-operative education and internships. The key to the success of students who participate in such programs lies in finding work placements that match their field of study, and employers that support them and understand their role as mentors. Studies show that students, who participate in these activities, have shown improved academic performance and better employment outcomes both in terms of wage and working roles. The most popular form of work-based learning is co-operative education and in Canada it is mostly used at the undergraduate level. The Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (2011) lists 69 of its member colleges and universities that provide this type of hands-on, experiential learning opportunities. The association reports that over 80,000 students across the country are currently participating in these programs, out of which the majority are from Ontario. According to its website, Waterloo University runs the largest post-secondary program of this kind in the world with almost 16,000 students enrolled in co-op over three semesters. Researchers have examined the role of co-operative education in transitioning from postsecondary education to the labour market and have found that co-op students earn the highest salaries and get the most prestigious jobs after graduation (Waterloo University Newsletter, 2010). Canadians who were asked about their co-op experiences stated that their work term “had significant impact on their career choice, getting their first job, their workplace integration, and their academic learning� (Ipsos Reid, 2010). Internship is similar to co-op, but takes a longer time (a year or more) to complete. For studies in some fields (such as education, health and social work) professional practice is mandatory to successfully finish the programs. Co-op, internships and field experiences can also be mandatory if they are part of the program (Sattler, 2011). 40

Co-op and internship positions, especially paid ones, are highly competitive, making it difficult for students to find employers to take them on. Most universities and colleges have coordinating bodies to attract and engage employers; and to pre-assess and prepare their students for the work placement. It is generally noted that most employers in Canada consider participating in these post secondary work-integrating activities, because they are beneficial to them in terms of improved productivity and service delivery, recruitment, screening and training, human resource development and liaising with post-secondary institutions (Sattler, 2011). Several government and private sector organisations offer national and international internship programs in specific sectors, offering to provide mentorship and work experience both nationally and internationally. Some examples are: 41

 

Federal Public Sector Youth Internship Program: offers youth the chance to gain real work experience within the Government of Canada and develop their employability skills. Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), International Youth Internship Program: provides young post-secondary graduates the opportunity to apply their knowledge, gain international work experience and develop skills in various sectors. Career Edge : offers paid internships within Canadian organizations for university and college graduates in a variety of fields. It also runs specialized programs for graduates with disabilities and internationally trained immigrant professionals. Canadian Political Science Association, Parliamentary Internship Programme: offers youth first-hand learning opportunities about parliamentary government and federal politics. Cultural Human Resources Council Youth Internship Program: provides paid internships for youth interested in the Arts and Culture sector. Science Horizons Youth Internship Program: aims at preparing youth for sustainable employment in environment based careers through internship opportunities in research and environmental science.

Career Mentoring for Disadvantaged Groups The transition from youth-to-adulthood and from school-to-work is challenging for everyone. Nevertheless, the transition can be more difficult for youth from disadvantaged demographic groups. The evidence that supports this fact is the unemployment rate, which is disproportionately high among first nations youth, visible minorities, youth with disabilities, rural youth, and youth without high school diplomas. Young women are also statistically more likely to be underemployed and get paid less, even though they are more likely to finish high school and pursue post-secondary education than their male counterparts. (Saunders, 2008) Saunders (2008), in the synthesis report ‘Pathways for Youth to the Labour Market’, identified common trends in how Canadian youth are transitioning from school-to-work based on factors like gender, race, parental education background, location (urban/rural) and work experience. The result indicates that:  Young women are more likely to follow a post-secondary pathway and less likely to 42

   

drop out of high school than their male counterparts. Aboriginal youth record lower educational attainment than non-Aboriginal youth. Those from parents with high levels of education have a high probability of success. Those who work part-time (less than 20 hrs per week) while in high school are less likely to drop out. Those living in larger cities are more likely to go on to some kind of post-secondary education compared to those who live in rural areas.

In Canada, policies that theoretically enable all students to participate in experiential learning opportunities free of discrimination are in place. But in reality, the underrepresented groups mentioned above showcase low participation rate. For instance, for reasons that are associated with gender stereotypes, women’s participation in apprenticeship is very low. This is also the case for Aboriginals, individuals with disabilities, and recent immigrants. The reasons Stewart and Kerr (2010) cited for low participation among these groups are: ....stereotyping, particularly in male‐dominated ‘heavy’ trades; incompatible home cultures and work cultures (particularly for Aboriginals and recent immigrants); an unwillingness on the part of employers to accommodate unique employment requirements; and problems with language and other “soft” skills (again, this applies primarily to recent immigrants and Aboriginals). To address these problems, the federal government has created the Youth Employment Strategy (YES), which is intended to increase young people’s participation in the workforce, particularly those who face employment barriers in the labour market. The program includes: 

Skills Link, which supports youth with employment barriers to find jobs by helping them gain employability and work skills.  Career Focus, which helps post-secondary graduates start their career journey in their field of study.  Summer Work Experience, which gives wage subsidies to employers that provide summer employment for secondary and post-secondary students (Youth Canada, 2011)


At-Risk Youth Youth from low income families, youth from parents with little or low educational backgrounds and aboriginal youth, generally are more likely to drop out of high school and become ‘at-risk’ youth. This suggests that remedial programs that are targeted towards these demographics are needed. Student success initiatives like those of The Ontario Ministry of Education, which are aimed at decreasing dropout rates and facilitating school-to-work transition for all students and particularly for ‘vulnerable’ youth, are clearly valuable. School to Work programs that involve ‘work experience’ are said to hold great hope for ‘at-risk’ youth, who are not bound for college and university. Several community-based initiatives that are showing promising results are also in existence. For example, Pathways to Education is an organization that is helping ‘at-risk’ youth to stay in school. It is an integrated, community-based program that provides multiple, comprehensive supports to students in low income communities with high dropout rates. Career mentoring is one of the strategies this program uses to engage the students and increase their awareness of post-secondary and employment options. Pathways to Education’s success has been ground-breaking, reducing high school dropout rates by more than 70% and growing the number of youth going on to college or university by over 300% (Pathways to Education, 2011). In most cases, these services are offered for in-school youth, which makes it hard for out of school youth to access these services (Saunders, 2008). Some non-profit organizations run mentoring programs to help out of school youth go back to school and enter the workplace. Short term paid work placements are provided to enable these young people to acquire skills, improve their attitude and network with employers.

First Nations Youth Even though the educational gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada has been decreasing in recent years, educational attainment of the former still remains well below the levels achieved by the latter. It has also been observed that in Aboriginal communities in Canada, implementation of effective school-to-career strategies has been difficult. Lack of 44

transportation and limited placement opportunities are cited as some of the factors that limit the utilization of work experience and other career exploration learning methods (Taylor, 2008). Researchers suggest that experiential learning and mentoring can improve the unacceptable status of Aboriginal education. For instance, O’Connor (2008), in his study that focused on experiential learning in the indigenous context, concluded that “experiential learning provides the indigenous student with the task of being conscious about and taking responsibility for the reality of their own political and cultural awareness. It is in this very act that the central value is realized: the ability of all persons to know their potential for development and self awareness.” Another study that assessed the status of Aboriginal youth in the Canadian labour market underlined that while a lot of work should be done to strengthen the elementary and secondary educational system to better prepare Aboriginal youth for improved outcomes in the labour market and PSE, “more attention needs to be paid to employer-based training programs that can help integrate Aboriginal youth into the labour force” (Hull, 2008).

Young Women and Girls In Canada, young women are more likely to follow a post-secondary pathway and less likely to drop out of high school than their male counterparts. Despite this, young women are underrepresented in the Skilled Trades, Science and Technology, Leadership and Politics. Career mentorship and exploration initiatives that are targeted at women’s and girls’ participation in these fields are said to be instrumental in increasing their participation in nontraditional careers in science, and technology. In Canada, initiatives that aspire to increase women’s participation in science and technology are emerging. An example of such efforts can be seen at The Canadian Association for Girls in Science (CAGIS), where girls aged 7-16, meet monthly to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields with fun, hands-on activities led by women and men specializing in many different fields. Another mentorship program run by The Women in Leadership Foundation aims to increase women’s participation in management or leadership positions in Canada through combining mentorship and leadership skills development. 45

Mentoring to Support Young Women with Employment Barriers: A Case from Youth In Motion Youth In Motion (YIM) is a national charitable organization that utilizes mentoring to foster youth development at different stages. One of its programs, Opportunities Unlimited, offers mentoring and internship opportunities for young women under the age of 30, who face several kinds of employment barriers. The program runs twice a year, providing 15 participants with the opportunity to change their lives through inclass training that develops their employment skills followed by a mentorship program that places them in a six month internship with an employer in their community. Unable to finish her post-secondary education, Carmen Kong, wasn’t able to find employment other than gen� eral labour work. She lacks the support and network one needs to find better employment. She also lost her confidence when she dropped out of university. As a participant in the Opportunities Unlimited program, Kong has access to a mentor, whom she said is helping her in regaining her confidence. Her mentor, a young lawyer who is a partner in a law firm, has become her inspiration and life coach. Through internship at Manpower Canada, she has learned new skills, working with the marketing team. At the end of her internship, Kong was offered a permanent position at Manpower. Without the mentorship opportunity, she wouldn’t have acquired the skills that have helped her land this job. Many of the participants in this program face several employment barriers. The program measures success when the young women are able to obtain employment at the end of the program or when they make decisions to go to school to develop their skills and increase their employability.


Youth with Disabilities Documents that deal with pathways for youth in Canada barely touch upon how youth with disabilities make their transitions. As the shift from school to employment is generally a challenging phase for youth, it is even more demanding for those with disabilities. It has been proven that career-focused mentorship programs that take into consideration the unique challenges faced by students with disabilities can help them to “ease transitional anxieties, improve social competence, and improve the disability-related skill set and motivation needed to succeed� (Stumbo et al, 2008). To decrease barriers that affect disabled youth from fully participating in education, the Canadian Government provides some financial supports like Canada Access Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities, Canada Study Grant for the Accommodation of Students with Permanent Disabilities and Permanent Disability Benefit. There are also some employmentspecific initiatives that focus on people with disabilities. For example, Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities, a program from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, helps people with disabilities prepare for and obtain employment or self-employment. The Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program also provides services to entrepreneurs with disabilities who live in Western Canadian communities and who are seeking to start up or expand a small- or medium-sized business. However, neither of these programs are particularly designed for youth. An example of a career mentorship program for disabled youth is Ability Edge, which is a paid internship program specifically designed for university and college graduates with selfdeclared disabilities to partake in 6, 9 or 12-month internships to gain meaningful work experience with local employers. York University also runs a mentorship program which provides an opportunity for students with identified learning disabilities and employers to work together to develop the career goals of the university students.


Immigrant Youth and Visible Minorities Studies confirm that immigrant youth enrolling in the Canadian school system face a myriad of challenges that are related to language, acculturation, psychological and economic difficulties. In spite of this, immigrant youth and visible minorities generally are more likely than Canadian born youth to obtain a post-secondary credential and are less likely to dropout of high school (Saunders, 2008). Even though this should make them more marketable in the labour market , in reality it is not the case. They have the highest unemployment rate in the country due to barriers such as unfamiliarity with Canadian labour market practices and lack of Canadian work experience. These challenges are especially great in the case of young people who are trying to enter the labour market with foreign credentials. Career mentorship opportunities that are provided in out-of-school programs, high school and post-secondary institutions are bound to help recent immigrant youth acquire work experience and develop networks in the hiring community. Lack of information about the services that are available is attributed as one of the primary reasons why recent immigrants don’t participate in these programs. In relation to this, a study that dealt with the status of newcomer youth in Canada states that “some youth had a sense that outside of the school there was much less for youth to go to for information on available programs, but within the schools, also, they very often didn’t know the structures set up to help them” (Kilbride and Anisef, 2001). Programs like Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS), which is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, can be helpful in connecting new students and their parents with the services in and out-of-the school. A study that assessed school-to-work transition for recent immigrants underlined that the available programs are helping in connecting them to the labour market, but they are “a mere drop in the bucket”, compared to the extent of intervention needed (Van Ngo, 2009). For those who have foreign credentials, career mentoring projects that connect them with employers play a great role in facilitating their integration into the workforce. There are a number of organizations in Canada that run these kinds of programs. The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) mentoring program is a good example. According to their website, since 2004, over 5,300 skilled immigrants have been mentored . These initiatives are worth replication in major cities in Canada that are experiencing an influx of skilled immigrant population every year. 48


PART FOUR Engaging Employers as Career Mentors and Education partners




mployers can play a great role in preparing young people for the world of work, which as we have discussed previously, is extremely beneficial for all involved in the labour market and the community at large. Engaging employers as education partners, specifically as career mentors for young people, is an important task that requires a combination of effort including partnership building, volunteer recruitment, and community engagement. This section is developed for those who are involved in undertaking these activities, and whose goal is engaging individuals and businesses as career mentors at various levels. People in these roles have different positions depending on their respective organizations, so throughout this book, they are referred to as partnership brokers, program coordinators, program managers or volunteer coordinators. In some cases, formal business and education partnerships are developed at the institutional level, defining how the two entities will work together. In other instances, the relationships are developed in a less formal manner where individual professionals (who could be an employee) commit their time to participate in one or more activities, including career fairs, classroom talks, one-to-one or e-mentoring. In most cases, secondary and post-secondary schools assign a body that manages their partnership with businesses. In Ontario, for example, school boards are mandated to “extend and strengthen partnerships with colleges, employers and the community to promote cooperative education, work experience and school-work transition programs.� Co-operative education teachers’ responsibilities also include promoting the program to employers and community members both in and outside the school (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2000). Most post-secondary institutions also have co-operative education coordinating offices that manage their relationships with employers. In some provinces, Business-Education Partnership councils are in existence to facilitate collaboration among employers, educators, government and other community agencies. Several youth-serving organizations also run 52

career mentoring programs, which demand the involvement of program teams in recruiting and mobilizing community support. Developing new partnerships and strengthening existing collaborations in a sustainable manner have been, and will continue to be, important factors that determine the success of career-related mentoring programs for young people. Even though it has been indicated that employers benefit from their involvement in career mentoring young people, organizations that are mobilizing employers as mentors “often have trouble recruiting sufficient numbers of mentors and sustaining their involvement overtime”(Stukas and Tanti, 2005). Employers are pulled from different directions to be involved in multiple community initiatives. For instance, a single employer could be approached by business-education partnership brokers, colleges, universities, alternative schools, secondary schools, and other organizations. In some cases, requests come directly from the young people themselves. Employers might find it difficult to deal with this influx of demands for partnership, which in turn might eventually influence their decision to be involved or not. Coordination of employer engagement initiatives is, therefore, crucial. For example, in building business-education partnerships for K-12, instead of having individual schools working on little asks here and there, coordinating the partnership building effort at the district school level produces better results. For this reason, the role of business-education councils is vital as they can focus on being the catalyst between the two entities. The Passport to Prosperity initiative, which is sponsored by the Provincial Partnership Council (PPC) and is delivered by local business-education partnership organizations in 26 cities in Ontario, can be cited as an exemplary model on how employer engagement can be coordinated on a larger scale. In designing and delivering career mentoring programs, the number one challenge mentioned by program coordinators is balancing young people’s placement needs with the opportunities that are available (Cuerrier, 2003). Another challenge is the necessity of screening prospective mentors, because every person who is willing might not necessarily be qualified to be an appropriate mentor. Highlighting this aspect, Ballasy (2004) explains that when seen from a customer service viewpoint, recruiting mentors is “a bit of a two-edged sword”. For instance, 53

when you are recruiting a workplace mentor, you have to approach them as a valued customer while evaluating the workplace to ensure it is a safe and youth-friendly environment. The goal is that prospective mentees will be treated as positive contributors to the team, rather than just being seen as someone’s burden. Whether the program is run by a large institution serving thousands of youth or a small organization striving to change the life of a few young people, engaging employers as career mentors requires the planning and implementation of a solid marketing strategy. The next subsection provides marketing tips that are particularly important in recruiting and retaining mentors. ‘Mentor’ here can mean the individual who will take the actual mentoring role, or it can be the decision-making body (employer), who will decide if the business will participate in the mentoring program. The term ‘business’ and ‘employer’ are not only referring to private, profit-making businesses, but also include professional associations, government agencies and non-profit organizations that can utilize their employees’ capacity to mentor the next generation of workers.


“The rewards are amazing on a personal and business level �. Karen Tabone, Director Heritage Green Child Care Inc.


Mentor Recruitment Who is Selling the Mission? Whether it is run by a youth-serving organization or a school, any career mentoring program needs a team to manage and develop community relationships. Sound financial resources are required to administer and maintain the partnership process, which includes, but is not limited to, coordination of activities, partnership management and communications. McAdam (2003) states that a volunteer/partnership coordinator’s first job is “selling the concept of mentoring”, before going on to recruiting mentors or building partnerships. The coordinator should be knowledgeable on the subject and how it is applied in advancing youth development. They must be able to communicate the message with passion, in an employerfriendly way that relates to the people he or she is planning to engage. The role of the person who is responsible for creating and sustaining meaningful relationships in the business community is a very important and complex one. McAdam (2003) wrote that the coordinators’ task demands skills in “communications, networking, organization, strategic and creative thinking, problem solving, data and time management, marketing, negotiation and even conflict resolution.” In addition, the coordinator needs to be persistent by applying different marketing approaches. Ballasy (2004) describes this as a “desire to achieve a goal or solve a problem despite obstacles impeding your success. It involves the willingness to evaluate and apply a different approach or solution to the situation until you attain the results you want.” The challenge is that in many cases partnership coordination and volunteer recruitment are seen as optional tasks (Cuerrier, 2003). In some schools for example, these duties are given to educators, who have full-time jobs in the classroom. The Conference Board of Canada study refers to this as “a major structural and systematic challenge that needs to be properly addressed” (Watt, 2003). In relation to human resources, many career mentorship programs suffer from a lack of an accountable body for facilitating partnerships and constant changes to leadership both in schools and businesses (Watt, 2003). Responding to these human resource challenges is crucial in achieving the mission of any career mentoring program. 56

Getting Top Management Buy-in In mobilizing mentors from the business world, partnership brokers usually create direct connections with human resources personnel. For successful and lasting employer engagement, getting buy-in from the top management of both parties is extremely important. A study conducted by The Conference Board of Canada about business-education partnerships in Canada explains that developing a sense of ownership and gaining leaders’ commitment encourage participation and grassroots support at all levels (Watt, 2003). On the business side, the endorsement by management is essential. If people in leadership positions commit to mentoring young people as part of their corporate responsibility and future human resource development, that commitment will be replicated by their staff members. Each manager becomes a critical partner in recruiting and engaging other employers in their peer network. Lacey (1983) wrote that, “interest in school-business partnerships is increasing where respected business leaders are informally telling their network of peers about personally satisfying successes and are urging them to get involved”. This is also the case for partnerships between businesses and community organizations. Youth-serving organizations and schools that are working towards engaging employers as education partners should also make sure that the top administration within their own organizational system is committed to supporting their partnership mission. Board members and directors should be conversant about the programs and partnerships that their organization has formed and act as ambassadors in networking and promoting these relationships. They should be generous about giving recognition to the partners that are involved. Identifying challenges in business-education partnerships in Canada, The Conference Board of Canada study states that lack of top management support on both sides of the partnership results in little financial support for the programs (Watt, 2003). For example, if school administrators’ are not comfortable enough to involve their potential business partners in the pertinent decision-making process; it is then less likely for the business to have a sense of ownership in the program. Lack of ownership means lack of commitment, which will eventually kill the relationship. 57

Making the Business Case The organizational contexts that youth-service organizations, schools and businesses operate in are very different. So are their goals and priorities. The first two are primarily committed to serving young people. Businesses care about the well-being of young people, but their existence solely depends on how well they provide and promote their services or products. Several employers, who participate and offer career mentoring opportunities to young people, have expressed that they are involved because they want to give back to their community. This altruistic view is a good reason to volunteer and be involved, but it doesn’t open the door to sustainable, long lasting engagement. A partnership that is not built on a mutually beneficial goal for both parties has little chance of being sustained. It is, therefore, very important to follow a business-like approach when creating and managing a businesseducation partnership (Lacey, 1983). Coordinators who are working on engaging employers often think that by emphasizing the benefits of their mentorship program to youth, they can convince people to be mentors. This works sometimes, but not always. Coordinators should, therefore, consider taking off their nonprofit hat and think like a corporate marketing or sales strategist. Ballasy (2004) recommends merging marketing strategy with quality customer service. That in short means they should be able to communicate the benefits of employer participation in a language that businesses understand. This includes identifying the employers’ interest and what they are planning to get out of their involvement. Each employer has his/her own objectives. Volunteerism after all, as Fisher and Cole (1993) put it, is a good illustration of “social exchange theory; that human interactions are based on an exchange of costs for benefits.” Understanding this will help partnership brokers to engage employers and potential mentors according to their interest. For example, if it is the employer’s goal to use mentoring as a way to prepare entry-level employees in a short period of time, the coordinator will understand that young people who are planning to pursue post-secondary options might not suit this employer’s need. This is to say that while it is crucial to place students’ learning needs at the centre of any mentoring program, understanding employers’ needs and culture is also vital. The business 58

Top seven reasons why mentoring young people makes business sense:  It gives employers the opportunity to meet their potential future workforce without a permanent commitment on their part.  It promotes the business for young people by giving them the opportunity to discover that particular industry and various occupations that could become their future careers.  Effective, long term mentorship relationships, such as co-op, internship and apprenticeships, have become recognized as proven cost-effective opportunities to recruit, train and retain young workers.  Employers build relationships with potential future employees and hear fresh viewpoints on company services and products, which can result in innovative strategies and improved productivity.  Mentoring serves as a professional development tool for employees. In the process of mentoring and training students, employees will discover and develop their own leadership skills, ultimately benefiting the host employer organization.  We are in an era where different generations work in one workplace. Mentoring young people can be a productive experience for employees, as each generation can come to understand the other’s motivations, career goals, and attitudes.  People like to work for companies that take social responsibility very seriously. Allowing employees to serve as volunteer mentors is a cost-effective way of developing the sense of volunteerism in a workplace without worrying about sending employees somewhere else. Source: Industry –Education Council of Hamilton, Advertorial, 2010

case for youth career mentorship is obviously related to workforce development, community relations and employee professional development. The coordinators’ role is to help the employer realize these payoffs by capitalizing on the short and long term goals of mentorship involvement. Making sure that these expectations are met is also very significant in retaining mentors and increasing their level of involvement. The worst thing that can happen is a mentor quitting your program because their expectations weren’t met. This doesn’t mean you have to put aside the mission of your program to make employers happy. When businesses commit to be involved in mentorship, agreeing on shared goals that are achievable will help reduce any potential misunderstandings. For example, businesses that are experiencing industry-wide labour shortages may be receptive to mentoring young people in order to create interest in their sector. A high school 59

mentoring program might match a young person who thinks he is interested in accounting with an accounting firm. After three months of workplace mentorship, the youth might have a change of mind about pursuing accounting, but does that mean the business’s expectation in attracting youth to the sector isn’t met? Maybe, but it will have saved time and money in the long run. The goal of mentorship in this case is to help the student explore the career to find out if he will like it or not. Therefore, while it may not have met the business’s long term goals, their mentoring opportunity has allowed this youth to rethink his career pathway, saving him and the business from making an investment in a career that might not work out. By making sure your business partners have a clear understanding of the many possible outcomes of mentorship when they sign up, you will save them from thinking that their involvement hasn’t been a success.

Locating Potential Mentors The most ideal way to recruit potential mentors is by making a direct personal appeal. People respond positively when they are asked and although asking individuals one-by-one can be time-consuming, if it is approached strategically, this technique can be the most effective way of finding the best mentors. When you embark on your mentor recruitment campaign, keep the following points in mind:

A. Research potential businesses: This will save you a lot of time by helping you narrow down your list to those who are more likely to say ‘yes’. The internet can be used as a valuable research tool to learn about a business. Other sources of information are Chambers of Commerce, Business Improvement Area (BIA) groups and professional or trade associations. Use the following examples as your research start-up questions:  Which employers have policies on corporate social responsibility?  Do they show an interest in youth development?  Do they have any involvement in their local schools, colleges, universities, etc?  Have they already been participating in related activities, for e.g.,career fairs?  What are their immediate and long-term human resources needs? Is their sector having a shortage or surplus of skilled labour?  What is their view or prior experience providing career exploration opportunities to young people? 60

What is their stance on youth employment? Are there any myths and misconceptions in relation to having youth at the workplace?  Do they have an in-house mentorship program?

B. Assess potential mentor demographics: Understanding who is more likely to volunteer as a mentor is important. Stukas and Tanti (2003) states that it is helpful to understand how volunteer behaviour links with demographic characteristics, personality and motives. Some studies that they have analyzed, for instance, suggest that people who are middle-aged; have some type of post-secondary education; have a child in their household and have an income above $55,000 are more likely to be volunteer mentors. There is another assumption that people who were mentored themselves and have reaped positive outcomes from their mentorship experiences are more receptive to becoming mentors. Keeping track of mentors in your community in a way that captures their background and motives behind their volunteerism will help you formulate a successful plan. This will help you target your recruitment to those who are most likely to react positively to your request.

C. Assess the demographics of the mentees: It is important to take into consideration what type of youth your program is serving. For example, if your program is recruiting workplace mentors for internationally-trained youth, would employers with an immigrant background be more likely to accept your request? If you are dealing with ‘at risk’ youth, would businesses that are located in communities with high crime rate be more or less interested in being involved in positive youth development? Analyzing situations like these will help you target your recruitment effort and direct your request to those who are most likely to say ‘yes’.

D. Network, network and network: Regular networking with business committees and industry associations can help you reach a larger audience, because these people influence each other in making decisions with whom to work. Local Chambers of Commerce, professional associations, and other community groups can create opportunities for you to make the desired personal contacts. Local, provincial and federal affiliates may already have programs and policies in place and can connect you with their members. Events and conferences that are organized by professional organizations are instrumental in reaching 61

potential volunteers in specific industries. Although it might not be possible to make a personal connection with everyone at these events, by making arrangements with the event organizers to distribute your mentor application form and information package can help you make some valuable connections. Sustain your newly formed relationship through e-mail or a phone call. If you don’t, they might not remember you, or they might just change priorities in their volunteering plan.

E. Multiply your recruitment effort: Make sure your mentoring program marketing efforts are integrated with your organization’s overall marketing strategy. This is particularly important if your organization is large and runs several programs. Ensure that staff members, partners and stakeholders are committed to promoting the program and that they have the right information and resources to do so. Ballasy (2004), in her workbook for finding and attracting volunteers, emphasizes this point saying, “involve others: more is better”. She suggests that mentors, other volunteers, board of directors and advisory board organization staff can help you in multiplying your recruitment efforts.

F. Open the way to personal contacts: With limited resources you may have, it might be necessary to rely on developing your personal contacts by sending requests via letters and emails. This costs less, but remember that many people are bombarded at work, so that they might not give much attention to mass mail and e-mail requests, unless they are targeted and personalized. Crafting your ask, so that it relates to the individual can be time consuming but by filtering who is likely to positively react to your appeal (e.g.,sector specific requests), you will increase the probability of getting the response you need. Cold calls sometimes work, but we all know they can be annoying. Use cold calls to briefly introduce yourself and your program, followed by scheduling another call to provide more details to the prospective participant.

G. Get the media on your side: Developing strong media relations through your public relations strategy is another way of increasing your reach. Always be ready to feed the media with concrete and captivating information about your program. When sending out press releases or inviting media representatives to your special events, along with the traditional media (newspaper, radio and TV), remember that blogs are important and shouldn’t be 62

ignored. Identify local blogs that show interest in youth, education, mentoring and future workforce and related issues. Bloggists or bloggers that have established readership can help you engage with your targeted audience. Personally contact the bloggists and ask them to give you a hand in marketing your program among their followers.

Customizing Mentors’ Involvement Meaningful career mentoring involves a long-term commitment on the part of the mentor. The capacity of employers to allow this activity within the workplace depends on their present human and financial resources. It is important that their prospective mentees will be able to acquire meaningful experiences in their new role, which takes time. So there can be several reasons why some employers decide that they are not in a position to provide such commitments. It is reasonable that they might have their own priorities or not be convinced that they have the time or resources to be a long-term workplace mentor. In those cases you can customize their involvement and provide them with a range of short term roles that can get them excited about working with youth. Even if your career mentoring program’s goal is to provide a six month internship for the mentees, it is advisable to create other participation options for other employers with less time and resource commitments. Give the employer the chance to know your entire program and the young people you are concerned about through short term connections. If the employers like what they see, they will come back to you asking “what more can I do?”. Businesses operate in a different way from schools, in terms of working hours, communication culture, and other operational cycles. Customizing their involvement in a way that doesn’t disrupt their normal workday encourages them to say ‘yes’.


IEC’s Experience: Turning a onetime school visitor into a life-long career mentor This approach has been implemented by the Industry-Education Council of Hamilton through a career mentorship project that has particularly focused on increasing volunteer involvement. Employers were first approached to be involved in short term activities such as sending an employee to give a career talk to a group of students; inviting students to tour their workplace and operations, or participating in a career fair. Employers were then encouraged to increase their involvement into a longer time commitment that could range from offering a job shadowing opportunity for a student to taking on a co-op student. Gradually, increasing the extent of involvement has given the employers the chance to understand the kind of commitment they are making, who they are partnering with and why they should be engaged in such mentoring activities. The key to making this kind of approach effective is making sure that the employer’s first contact with the young person is a positive one. For example, if you take disinterested students on a workplace tour where they don’t pay any attention, the probability of the employer giving another tour is unlikely. 64

Identify Mentor Champions If you have an established program, you already have contacts who are involved in your mentoring program and these mentors can become a powerful addition to your marketing strategy. Coordinators of several career mentoring programs have indicated that “the personal referral and broad personal networks are the most effective means of attracting mentors” (Cuerrier, 2003). These people can connect you with their own links to the business community, articulating the business case of their own involvement in a way that will encourage and inspire others. Look for mentor champions who have been proactively working with young people and have maintained the relationship with their mentees even after the mentorship is concluded. A good example of this is an employer, who hires co-op students as full-time and part-time employees after the students have completed their placements. This employer can demonstrate to other businesses how mentoring can be a cost-effective recruitment and training tool. Based on some best practices in Ontario, Akela Peoples (2003) wrote that, ...a skilled champion is the supporting power base who indicates explicitly that he/she believes in mentoring. Champions bring an energy and enthusiasm for the process that is second to none. The right champion will capture the imagination of a community or organization, galvanize the community into action, and sustain the mentoring system over the long term.

Mentees as Advocates Keeping in touch with mentees (even after they have graduated from the program) serves as a resource for several purposes. It will help you in the evaluation and monitoring process of your program by showcasing how the process can make a difference. They are also the best people to provide testimonials in the community and advocate for your mentoring program to their peers, future employers and family members. Successful participants are also themselves potential future mentors as they are going to join the workforce soon. Tapping into your mentees as a resource will help sustain your program in the long run. The best practice we have documented from the Mentorship Plus program at Brock University showcases how to utilize today’s mentees as tomorrow’s mentors. 65

Mentorship Plus: Brock University Mentorship Plus is a program designed to assist students with all of the major transitions they face throughout their university career. From when students first set foot on campus until they graduate, we aim to keep students on a path to success throughout their time at Brock, and beyond. Mentorship Plus is offered to students in any program, in each year of their study at Brock. Participants receive training customized to their role in the program in order to ensure they understand the mentoring roles, expected behaviour, and purpose of the program. Senior Students Mentoring First Year Students: First year students are matched with a successful senior student mentor who shares the same area of study as well as similar career goals and/or interests. The goal of this level is to make sure the journey from high school to university is a success. Mentors will share their experiences and help answer any questions their mentees may have about campus life and life in the Niagara Region. Peer to Peer Mentoring Groups: Peer groups consist of 3-4 students in the same area of academic study. In these groups, students will participate in a variety of skill and personal development workshops to assist in clearly defining their personal, career and academic goals. Students in this level can also participate in Brock’s Foundations in Leadership program to help develop their leadership skills.


Career Mentors mentoring Graduating Students: Third and fourth year students also have the opportunity to select a career mentor that closely mirrors their career goals and interests. We have mentors registered in the program who can provide them with valuable guidance as they decide what to do with their degree. Mentors provide their mentees with a realistic preview of their career and help answer questions about their chosen career. Mentors can also give advice about pursuing further education after graduation and help with the “next steps”. Alumni as Career Mentor Source: Brock Alumni have the chance to make a connection to the Brock community by participating in the Mentorship Plus program – an ideal opportunity to make a positive impact in a graduating student’s life! As a Career Mentor, they will be paired with a graduating student who is either pursuing a career or postgraduate studies. The mentee will have an interest in their mentor’s field, occupation, or industry. Throughout the mentoring relationship, Career Mentors will work with their mentee to identify goals and skill sets. Building on the Mentoring Cycle: In an effort to offer a program that is relevant to students at any stage in their university career, we target both students and alumni in our recruitment process. The intention is to offer a program that students can participate in throughout their time at Brock, and then continue their relationship to Brock by giving back through mentoring a graduating student once they have made their own successful transition beyond university. Beginning in 2008, the Mentorship Plus program has seen tremendous growth. The 2008-2009 pilot year saw 182 participants in total for all levels, which increased to almost 800 in 2010-2011. This growth can be attributed to larger scale recruitment strategies and also by word of mouth. 70% of the Alumni Career Mentors from 2010-2011 have decided to continue with the program as mentors for the 2011-2012 academic year. The success of Mentorship Plus has not come without its fair share of challenges. One challenge we experienced this year was being able to find alumni mentors in specific roles for some students. Some students requested mentors in very specific fields and we were unable to find mentors in these areas. In these instances we would suggest mentors in similar fields and promote the mentor’s skill set over their career. By doing this we were able to entice a number of students into thinking outside of the box and working with a mentor that could help them develop their skills in many important areas. Moving forward, we are going to integrate this idea into the mentee training sessions in order to broaden their scope of potential mentors. We also integrated a new software component to the Mentorship Plus program in order to help manage program participants and streamline our matching process. Contributed by Adam Hogan, Mentorship Plus Coordinator, Brock University Career Services 67

Communications and Recruiting Mentors Integrating a solid communication strategy into the planning, implementation and evaluation phases of any partnership is an important aspect that will have a high impact on the success of a career mentoring program. Effective communication helps in developing shared goals among all stakeholders, engages more people and sustains relationships. Before you recruit your partners or volunteers, you have to carefully craft your message and clearly articulate what you are asking of them. Your message should be on point, clear, jargon -free and employer-friendly, answering the questions: why, how, when, for how long, and with whom. While it is very crucial to place emphasis on the benefits of the involvement for the business, school and youth involved, saying it in a language that is clear to employers is vitally important. In preparing your message, understanding your audience is always important. Keeping in mind that all employers are not the same and modifying your message to match the needs of the particular person you are talking to are fundamental. The right approach for a small business owner is likely not the same way you would communicate with the CEO of a big business. It is also crucial to understand the needs of the employers based on what is going on and what is happening in their specific sectors. For instance, if you are talking about mentoring young people as one way of responding to an anticipated labour shortage, make sure that you have the labour forecast and facts for that particular sector. Research your target employers before you meet with them. Finding out why they might or might not favour the idea of mentoring youth, will help you craft your message accordingly. For example, the table on the next page identifies myths that might discourage employers from committing to take on high school co-op students. Your communication strategy should be able to respond to such misconceptions if they exist in your community.


Myths that might prevent employers from taking high school co-op students Myth 1: Employers don’t benefit from taking co-op students. Truth: Employers find they can benefit in many ways. Who wouldn’t benefit from having an extra set of available hands? In the long term, it helps in screening, recruiting and retaining employees. Co-op students often provide fresh perspectives on products and services. They have a good grasp on various forms of social media, which can open your eyes to new marketing techniques. Last but not least, you will be seen as a good corporate citizen. Myth 2: Students are in co-op because they don’t do well in school and have no other options. Truth: There is a misconception that students with higher grades don’t participate in co-op education. All students can benefit from the hands-on experience that allows them to observe the application of their studies in real life work environments. As in work, people have aptitude in different areas. Offered the appropriate co-op placement, most students thrive and get inspired to do well in school. Co-op students have a lot of potential. The opportunity to experience the world of work helps them see the practical application of their academic studies and develop clear career goals. This encourages them to learn more about their options in their chosen profession. You will be giving them this opportunity while scouting future employees. Myth 3: Co-op students need to be watched over, which is time consuming for employers Truth: It is true, that young people will need guidance, but in the process of training co-op students, your employees will discover and develop their own leadership skills, ultimately benefiting your organization on many levels. Myth 4: Young people lack motivation Truth: All people lack motivation until they find their niche. Co-op education is all about career discovery and exploration. Students will choose your business because they are already motivated to gain knowledge from your experienced staff. Source: Industry –Education Council of Hamilton, Advertorial, 2010


“It’s a win-win situation for both the students and for me. They are prepared to learn, and have fresh ideas. Some students, once they have completed their co-op placement, have even been hired on to join our team. This program allows us to train potential future employees”. Sean Rossignol, Owners Felix Automotive Co.


Developing your message also depends on what kind of media you plan to use to disseminate your message. If your plan is based primarily on personal contact, you have the ability to craft your message in a way that appeals to your individual audience. Print media doesn’t offer you that flexibility, so it is important to choose a media mix that works best in reaching your specific target audience. Financial capacity is also a consideration, because promotional materials, media relations and advertising can be expensive.

Tips for Creating Appealing Messages These tips are adopted from the ‘Marketing for the Recruitment of Mentors’, a workbook written by Linda Ballasy for The National Mentor Centre (2004).  Print attractive headlines that catch your audiences’ attention and make them want to read or hear more.  Include a call to action that is clear and tell your audience what you are asking them to do.  Make your message inviting and compelling by adding passion into it. Remember that people respond based on emotions rather than facts. Start your message with a personal story that touches your audience. Once, you have their attention, you can use statistical facts to support your argument.  Use simple language that your audience can understand easily.  Give short and precise highlights of your program, its mission and expected outcomes for both the mentors and mentees.  Focus on the benefits to the target audience.  Use facts and testimonials that support your message.  Promote your brand by consistently using your logo and slogan in all print and electronic promotional materials. This helps you to be recognized easily.  Make sure your audience knows how to contact you. Lead them to your website to get more information.  Test your message on mentors to find out if your message works effectively. Source: ‘Marketing for the Recruitment of Mentors’, by Linda Ballasy for The National Mentor Centre (2004).

Your website is an important tool that can give the first impression of your program to your audience. Take advantage of new technologies in Web 2.0 to increase your reach and communicate with your audience effectively. The following table explains why you should use Social Media to your program’s advantage. 71

Social Media- The Tools You Can’t Ignore Having an online presence is no longer only about having a neat, informative website. It is more about engaging and sharing in a way that makes your audience not only the information receivers, but also active participants in your campaign. Several organizations are using social media tools to connect with their supporters, recruit volunteers, advocate their causes and solicit donations. What is the potential for using these tools to engage employers as mentors and education partners? The businesses and individual professionals you are eyeing as potential mentors for your program are most probably among the several social media users who are connecting and sharing information on a daily basis. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Slideshare…..the list is long. All of these platforms have their own pros and cons, therefore picking the ones that are appropriate for your purpose is essential. For example, Twitter is a great way to connect with local employers and professionals. Using twellow (, you can view local people/businesses in your area that are on twitter, follow them and send them messages individually. While it is a great way to understand what your constituents are interested in, to follow up what is going in your community, and to create connections that will help you advocate your mission in a word to mouth manner, Twitter can also be quite overwhelming. Following up the conversations that are flooding in every second and deriving those that are relevant to you and your work can be time-consuming. There are hundreds of materials that talk about the benefits of social media for nonprofits, but there are few resources that provide a guide on how to use these tools in engaging employers and professionals in your local community as mentoring partners. Most of the books also don’t tell you how you can integrate these new methods of communication into your existing strategy with the minimal human resources you have. This doesn’t mean you have to forget about these tools until you secure funding to hire a social media expert. The truth is social media is here and it is here to stay. With a planned strategy that is based on your answers to the following questions, it could be a cost-effective marketing tool that can get several people jazzed about your mission and goal.    

What do you want to achieve through social media? What is the human resources capacity of your organization to implement your plan? Which social media tool does your key market audience utilize? How are you planning to integrate your social media strategy with your overall communication and marketing plan?  What will be the role of the organization’s top management and board members?


Mentor Retention Finding enough mentors for your program is one challenge. Retaining the mentors you already have is another one. Retention is an issue that deserves attention during every step of your program. Most of the issues previously discussed relating to recruitment can also determine whether or not you will retain the valuable mentors in your programs. As mentioned above, when businesses commit to participate in mentoring young people, they have their own motivation and they expect to succeed in their role as mentors. Making sure that their expectations are met and that their efforts are successful is very important in encouraging them to keep on doing what they do. Below, we will discuss the critical issues that can help volunteer coordinators retain their mentors and partners in a sustainable manner.

Effective Communication The role of communication goes beyond selling your mission to potential mentors. It is a key factor in creating and sustaining a meaningful relationship among the participants of the program. Effective communication is pertinent in establishing shared values and goals. For instance, Taylor (2005) analyzed the challenges in business-education partnerships for Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Programs (OYAP) in Ontario. Some of the challenges cited were: having different visions of apprenticeship among schools, trainers and employers; and having different views about what kind of students are fit to get into these trades. In such circumstances improved communication that encourages a decision-making process that involves all stakeholders is important in helping all the partners work towards a shared goal. The line of communication should be open and participatory. Workplace mentors, for example, might have questions after having their students on board, therefore, they should know who to contact and communicate with to have their concerns addressed in a timely manner. To avoid confusion and mixed messages, assign one person to handle communication with them and prepare them properly about the importance of good dialogue.


Keep the volunteers informed about what is going on in your organization. This doesn’t mean bombarding them with information that they don’t need, but get to know them well enough to figure out what is and isn’t relevant to them. This will help you develop targeted interactive communication, which in turn will help you retain the mentors in your program. It is also important to share your program’s success with your stakeholders and the rest of the community. Documenting the program in an effective way is a powerful element in developing new interest and finding prospective mentors and funding. Communicating through personalized stories that showcase how everyone benefits from your program will keep your stakeholders engaged.

Keep Mentors Motivated We often forget that volunteers have personal reasons and motives that inspire them to participate, so it is wise to develop a plan for volunteer recognition and rewards. Recognizing mentors in a way that addresses their motivation will help you solidify their involvement and commitment to your mission for a longer period of time. Organizations that are engaged in attracting and retaining volunteers from the business community need to be responsive to the needs of that group. Volunteers are “likely to be engaged in a valued activity in which they believe that they can be successful in the role that they are taking, and that they will be recognized and rewarded” (Fisher and Cole, 1993). Supporting mentors to succeed in their role and recognizing them in meaningful ways for their contributions, therefore, is vital to ongoing volunteerism. Here are some strategies that coordinators can use in motivating mentors. 1. Gather information about employers/mentors expectations. Fulfilling those expectations is a major factor that will determine the volunteers’ future decision to continue their involvement. For example, if employers are anticipating community exposure through their mentorship involvement, establish a clear understanding of how you can help them achieve that. Acknowledging them as mentors through your newsletter, website and other social media activities can be one way of recognition, which will have the added 74

value of increasing their exposure among the targeted community. 2. How many of the mentors in your program say they do what they do because they want to make a positive contribution to their community? If they don’t see the positive effect they are creating, they will lose interest, so it is your job to show them how they are making a difference in their mentees’ lives. Update mentors on their mentees’ progress. Involve the mentees in continuously thanking their mentors. Collect testimonials from mentees and present them in a creative manner through storytelling. Keep your stories short and sweet. Don’t just tell the story, but show it. Visual media like images and videos are more appealing than written stories, especially if you are choosing the Internet as your medium. 3. Thank mentors every chance you get. Thank them during all your events. Thank them through your newsletter and social media initiatives. For instance, when you have a ‘yes’ from an employer after you asked them to join your army of volunteers, share the information through your Facebook page and Twitter. In addition to recognizing the mentors for their community involvement, this will help you brew new interest among other similar-minded businesses and organizations. 4. Sending personalized thank you cards and letters is an effective way to continuously recognize and acknowledge your volunteers. You can also organize a formal public recognition event and add some flavour to the day by giving awards to outstanding participants. This might seem to be costly and time consuming if you are running a large program, but it is extremely worthwhile to thank your volunteers in front of their peers and the community members they value most.


5. Enable mentors to showcase their involvement to their clients, friends and their peers. One way of doing this is preparing promotional materials with ‘I am a mentor’ written on it. It can be a pen, a plaque or table flag that the mentor can showcase proudly. This provides recognition and at the same time lets them passively help you in recruiting more volunteers. 6. Dedicate a section for mentors on your website, newsletter and blog to let them have their say on what mentorship means to them. Having their opinions will complement your recruitment strategy by providing their perspectives in their own voice.

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Set Them Up For Success You have successfully recruited several mentors from different walks of life, with diverse educational and career backgrounds. Now what? Are they ready to be mentors? Some might be and some might not. The young people who are signing up to participate in your program also know they will be matched with a career mentor, but do they understand what is expected of them and how to take advantage of this opportunity? MacAdam (2003) states that both mentors and mentees “need to learn how to assume a proactive role in the relationship and work effectively with each other in order to reap the greatest benefits from their mentoring experience”. For example, in cases of both high school and post secondary co-operative education programs, it has been noted that students don’t always consider the experience as valuable as it should be. We hear students complaining that they are often made to carry out mundane tasks (like photocopying and filing) that don’t allow them to develop their skills or apply their academic knowledge at the workplace. In such cases, a lack of meaningful ‘mentoring relationship’ can be observed, which Cuerrier (2003) defines as a relationship that “implies volunteering, commitment, reciprocity and gratuity, and encompasses notions of development, communication and learning.” Jones’ (2007) study ‘Connected Learning in Co-operative Education’ analyzes co-op students’ experiences from Canadian Universities, with the aim of identifying what contributes to making co-op work placements meaningful. The study reveals that meaningful co-op experience is gained:  When the employer provides real and relevant work experience in terms of the participant’s field of study and range and depth of experience in relation to the participant’s career path  When strong relationships are developed. These relations provide “warmth and support, extended beyond regular office hours, involved mentoring, as well as pushing of the students so that they moved outside of their comfort zone”  When the mentoring relationship lasts longer, for example giving the student a chance to be part of a project from start to finish


Unfortunately, co-op students who are able to find work placements that provide the aforementioned opportunities are considered lucky, even though this shouldn’t be the case (Jones, 2007). These situations can be improved by properly orienting employers about what their responsibilities and roles are as a co-op employer and by emphasizing their role as a mentor.

Screening Mentors Mentor screening is an important process that is mandatory in identifying safe and committed potential volunteers. The screening process can differ from program to program, depending on the mentoring setting and the extent of interaction expected to occur between the mentor and the mentee. A screening process, for instance, can include an interview, a criminal background check and asking for references. In the case of co-operative education, the process is referred to as a “placement assessment criteria”. In Ontario, for example the assessment includes:  The employer’s and supervisor’s positive attitude and commitment to the provision of experiential learning opportunities  The opportunity for each student to work in a one-on-one relationship with a supervisor  The range and scope of the learning opportunities and experiences available  The technology, equipment, and facilities provided at the placement  The health and safety conditions of the workplace  The business’s employment policies  The provision of an environment that is free from discrimination, violence, and expressions of hate  The ability to provide any necessary accommodations for students with special needs (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2000)

Preparing Mentors In addition to the screening process, mentor training and orientation is important to prepare them for their role by honing their actual mentorship skills. In the book ‘Mentoring and the World of Work in Canada’, the authors who scrutinized several mentoring programs in 78

different provinces, agree that training the mentor is a critical element. Stressing this point, McAdam (2003) wrote: “No matter what the level of education they have attained, how many years of management or professional experience they have under their belt, or how motivated they are about mentoring, mentors….need to participate actively in a facilitated training session.” The type of skills that a mentoring program requires from mentors can differ from one program to another depending on the objectives of the program, the youth target group, the type of mentoring (one-to-one, group, e-mentoring, etc…) and the duration of the relationship. Mentor training or orientation sessions should focus on: 

Orienting mentors about why meaningful mentorship matters. Depending on the specific program, the mentor should have the ability to put mentoring in the perspective of youth development, workforce development and passing on knowledge to the next generation. Giving enough background about the target youth group. The mentor should know what to expect. This is specifically important if the program is dealing with ‘at risk’ youth. Understanding the young person’s behaviour and background will help the mentor assess how to approach their prospective mentees and what to expect from them. Once the mentor is matched with his or her mentee, knowing the mentee’s interests and aspirations will help the mentor a great deal in preparing a work plan that matches the mentee’s skills and prior knowledge. Helping mentors understand the roles and responsibilities of participating in the programs. In most career-focused mentoring initiatives the role of the mentor is to: support the youth in exploring careers options; provide the opportunity to apply their academic skills in the workplace; acquire work related skills and attitudes; and network with professionals and employers. Helping mentors understand the scope of their involvement. This completely depends on the type of the mentoring program at hand and should be understood by everyone involved before the program begins. Is it ok if the mentor provides advice on the protégé’s personal matters or not? What is ok and what is not? What is the scope and limitation of the mentor-mentee relationship? Providing orientation about the program facilitation, monitoring and communications 79

processes. Nothing should be a surprise to the mentor. For example, who will develop an action plan and how will it be monitored? How will communication be handled? How frequently mentors and mentees will be contacted by the program team? Who will be their first contact? These things need to be discussed at the outset.  Preparing mentors in the case of a conflict. Volunteers should know what to do and who to contact if the mentee isn’t behaving as expected or a conflict arises and can’t be resolved in-house.  Orienting mentors on how to work with youth. If the employer doesn’t have experience employing young people, providing them the information about youth behavior will break the ice. This can include tips on how to manage workplace generational differences or gaps.

Preparing Mentees Mentoring programs that are attached to formal schooling (e.g., co-op) have established systems that screen and prepare participants who enroll in these programs. For instance, the Ontario Ministry of Education co-op policies and procedures clearly state the students’ roles during their work placement. Making sure the students are prepared for their responsibilities and comply with the regulations is the schools’ and the co-operative teachers’ duty. Preparing mentees will help them develop positive relationships with their mentors and the network of people they will connect with during their workplace experience. If they understand their role and set achievable goals, their likelihood of success is high. Orientation of youth will vary depending on the purpose of the program, the duration and the type of the program. Generally, youth orientation should:  Explain the program’s goals and objectives clearly. Make sure that the participating youth don’t have unrealistic expectations.  Explain their responsibilities and rights, for e.g., complying with the workplace rules in relation to dress code, safety and time management. In many instances, workplace safety training is a must. It is also important to provide mentees with job descriptions to avoid disappointment if the placement includes some tasks that are viewed as unpleasant. 80

Give them information about their prospective mentor. If the screening process includes being interviewed, prepare them by helping them with their resume and by conducting a mock interview.  Empower them with information on how they can make the best out of their mentoring relationship. Give them tips on how to develop good communication skills, good work ethics and attitude, etc.  Provide guidance on what to do if a conflict arises with the mentor or other co-workers.

Meaningful Matchmaking Appropriate matching is the key to establishing a successful mentoring relationship. It is obvious that mentoring works best if the mentor and mentee share interests and goals, so the first logical criterion in mentor-mentee matching is their career interest. Work-focused mentoring can have different goals, such as: exploring a career; developing employability skills; developing specific skills; developing entrepreneurial skills; and acquiring work experience. The goal determines the matching process. For instance if a youth entrepreneur plans to start his own business, he needs to be matched with a seasoned entrepreneur who has experience in starting and running a business. Ideally, the type of business the mentor is running is similar to the one the mentee plans to embark on, but it is not absolutely necessary. For a student who is looking at exploring pathways in a specific career, it is important that her mentor know and understand that particular profession to provide tangible advice and guidance. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find the ideal match, especially when few mentors are available. A guide by Women in Motion (2002) argues that there are times when random matching works best, specifically in exposing the mentees to career possibilities that they may not consider otherwise. The guide also points out that if our goal is to prepare youth for the real world, partnering with someone that might not be the ‘right fit’ and making it work can be a good lesson in their preparation for the workplace. There is no precise and defined guide that works in all circumstances in mentor-mentee matching. Mentoring Canada provides some suggestions on factors that should be considered 81

in mentor-mentee matchmaking.  Needs: Primary focus should be given to the needs and interests of the young person. Considering the skills, talents and preferences of the mentor comes next. If the student’s interest is to have hands-on experience on a specific area, the mentor should be able to provide that. Emotional, physical, medical, language, scheduling, and other practical and special needs of the mentee must be considered and the mentor must agree to accommodate those needs. For example, if transportation is going to be an issue that hinders the young person to get to work, it should be addressed right away.  Demographics: Gender and race consideration in the matching process depends on the type of program. Women or girl-focused mentoring programs might choose to accept women mentors only. If the goal is to provide women role models for the mentee, that makes sense. If the goal is to increase women’s participation in certain careers, limiting the matching on gender basis might not be as important as it is in the former case. The same theory applies for considering race.  Location: This is specifically important for workplace mentoring opportunities. Distance can become an obstacle to the stability and durability of the match. It is vital to take into account the location of the mentor and mentee, and the time and distance the two must travel in order to meet.  Values: Having different values on issues that are not related to the mentorship goal doesn’t necessarily pose a problem. Mentoring Canada suggests that when there is a significant value disparity, both parties must “have a nonjudgmental, open, accepting approach to the other's values.”  Involvement: Involving both mentors and mentees in the matching process will allow them to get to know each other. Some programs conduct pre-matching meetings, while others allow mentors (especially in employer-based programs) to interview the mentees. (Mentoring Canada, 2011)


Monitoring and Evaluation Monitoring It takes time for the mentor-mentee relationship to flourish and the program team needs to continue facilitating to ensure this happens. Monitoring and following up on the relationship is crucial to keep the participants on track, and to check to see if the match is working according to plan. As the relationship develops, monitoring also serves to follow the mentee’s progress in terms of the expected outcomes. Monitoring enables the program facilitators to tackle challenging issues that might arise between participants earlier (Weinberger, 2005; Allen, Finkelstien and Poteet, 2009). Several authors confirm that without an ongoing, systematic monitoring scheme, mentors, especially inexperienced ones, might find it difficult to know where to start and what to do with their charges. Weinberger (2005) wrote that: “even in the best of mentoring relationships, there will be times when mentors, in particular, experience frustration, exasperation, impatience, anger, and in some cases even regret that they entered in the relationship in the first place.” Addressing such issues on a timely basis will not only save the relationship, but it will also prevent mentor burnout. Allen, Finkelstien and Poteet (2009) suggest the following when planning a monitoring scheme for a mentoring program:  A monitoring process should consider how often, how and what to monitor  Steps and measures to be used in monitoring should stem from the general goal of the program  Monitoring should be consistent, for e.g., meeting with mentor, meeting with mentee, etc  Monitoring should include a clear tracking system of ongoing assessments  Meetings and assessments should be recorded in written form and filed properly.  The monitoring process should provide guidance on how to handle conflicts, communication breaches, termination of relationship, etc


Evaluation Effective programs set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed objectives. Measuring the outcome of a program based on its objectives and the overall goal using systematic evaluation tools is useful to showcase the effectiveness of the program for all stakeholders. This information is a powerful tool that can be used later to secure more funding, to sustain the program and keep volunteers and mentors by showing them that their efforts are bringing about positive results. Evaluating and measuring the outcomes of a mentoring program can be difficult. If you are evaluating the effectiveness of the program in terms of the effect it has on the youth served, how does one measure the actual effect of mentorship without taking into consideration other factors that might play a role in the success or failure of the participant. Forrin and Cuerrier (2003) propose five major evaluation issues:     

The relevance of the mentoring program The implementation and operation of the program Effects and repercussions of the mentoring program The efficiency of the mentoring programs Mentor and mentee satisfaction

The relevance of evaluation and monitoring in marketing mentoring programs, and recruiting and retaining mentors is tremendous. The information that is captured during these processes is a rich resource in providing authentic, tangible and primary information about the program to all stakeholders at hand. For example, having several stories that demonstrate participant satisfaction is a simple way of catching the attention of future volunteers. The program team shouldn’t wait to prepare the stories until a media person asks for one. Having a stock of these stories on hand will make life simpler. Having an evaluation and monitoring process that captures these stories on a recurring basis is a powerful marketing resource that can complement both the recruitment and retention efforts. Evaluation results can be disseminated in different manners. Annual and donor reports, newsletters, and any other communication channels including social media can be used to share the information. When preparing these documents, keep in mind that the presentation is as important as the message in appealing to and inciting interest in the target audience. 84


Glossary of Terms Career Mentorship: Mentoring refers to a relationship between a more experienced person with a less experienced person, where in the former guides, supports and shares knowledge with the latter. When the mentorship is career-focused and targeted towards helping the mentee to explore career options, to develop occupational skills and attitudes, to boost academic achievements and to assess skills, abilities and interests; it is called Career Mentorship. In this book, the term career mentorship covers a range of formally structured programs that are run by educational institutions and other youth-serving organisations. The target group of these programs can be both in school and out of school youth. Career Exploration: Career exploration is a self-discovery process that allows an individual to explore one’s skills, abilities, interests, values, and develop awareness about various career options that match those individual attributes. It also includes making oneself aware of the working conditions of that particular career and the skill and education requirements that are required to achieve the career as a goal. Career Fair: It is a kind of exposition for employers and schools to meet with potential future employees. Companies or organizations set up booths to showcase their sectors and businesses. Career Talk: Career Talk is a short-term mentoring method that allows professionals to share occupational information with a group of students in a classroom setting. It is a suitable technique to be used in kindergarten or at the university level. The essence of the talk may include tasks and working conditions for the career, qualification and educational requirements, salary, employment prospects, what courses students should take if they want to go in that direction. The speakers are invited to speak from their own experience and to answer questions from the students. Career talks are one of the most suitable ways of providing students with career awareness and exploration opportunities as well as an effective way of making students aware of the businesses, companies and organizations that could be their future employers in their own local community. Co-operative Education (co-op) and Internship: Co-operative education and internship are popular experiential learning methods that mix course work with a work placement at both secondary and postsecondary level. Students are expected to relate and broaden their knowledge in the workplace. Internship takes a longer time than co-op and internship takes place at the end of a program. Experiential Learning: Experiential Learning is usually referred as ‘learning by doing’, as opposed to a lecture type of learning where the teacher is the provider of the knowledge and the student is at the receiving end. Instead of being told or given the information that is the ‘learning subject’, the students are presented with a real life like situation where they can observe, experience and solve a problem and later


apply the same experience to solve similar problems. The Ontario Ministry of Education defines Experiential Learning (EL) as “planned learning experiences that take place in the community, including job shadowing and job twinning, work experience and virtual work experience, and co-operative education” and that “provide students who are enrolled in courses of all types and in all disciplines with the opportunity to enhance their school programs” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2000). Job Shadowing: Job shadowing is a career discovery opportunity that allows a student to be paired with a worker in a certain career field for a half or full day. The worker offers the chance for the student to observe the daily activities in the workplace. Job twinning is a type of job shadowing wherein the student is paired with a co-operative education student. Pathways: In the educational context, Pathways are “12 years of formal schooling, secondary school graduation, and a formal post-secondary program or employment” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2003). Pathways after high school include university, college, skills training or apprenticeship and school to work employment. Work-Based / Work-Integrated Learning: In this book, Work-Based Learning is used synonymously with Career Mentoring that takes place in a workplace setting. Many scholars use the term ‘Work-based learning’ as it applies to adult employees that are engaged in life long learning. But the term can be used to describe the same learning process as it applies to younger demographics that are currently enrolled in formal schools or independent learning trainings. Sacchanand defines Work-based learning as “the means, processes, and activities by which employees learn in the workplace, from basic skills to high technology and management practices that are immediately applicable to workers' jobs, duties and roles; the learning can be formal, non-formal, incidental, or experiential, with an emphasis on self-directed learning”(Sacchanand, 2000). Work Experience: As much as it is important for young people to understand the career options they have, it is also important for them to learn about general workplace skills, including social and interpersonal skills. Work Experience “involves short term, subject related work placements” that are targeted to help students acquire employability skills and experience the applicability of subject-matters in real life working roles. This kind of work placements could range from one to four weeks and is usually used for students who are planning to take the school-to-employment pathway (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2000). Workplace Tours: Workplace Tours serve a similar purpose as career talks, but might have better impact since students can tour the workplace and meet a wide range of employees, which can allow them to observe the day-to-day operations first hand and learn about the various types of jobs available in that particular sector or business. 87

References Part One Bozeman, Barry, and Mary K. Feeney. "Toward a Useful Theory of Mentoring." Administration & Society. SAGE,Oct. 2007. Web. 8 Mar. 2011. <>. Meister, Jeanne C., and Karie Willyerd. The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow's Employees Today. New York: Harper Business, 2010. Print. “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?" Workopolis. 28 Aug. 2007. Web. 13 Sept. 2011. <http:// NewsReleasesView&lang=EN&file=News20070828>.

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Glossary of Terms Ontario, Ministry of Education and Training. Co-operative Education and Other Forms of Experiential Learning: Policies and Procedures for Ontario Secondary Schools. Queenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Printer for Ontario, 2000. Ontario Ministry of Education. 2000. Print.

Ontario, Ministry of Education and Training. Building Pathways to Success. Queen's Printer for Ontario, 2003. Print. Sacchanand, Chutima. "Workplace Learning for Information Professionals in a Changing Information Environment." Proc. of 66th IFLA Council and General Conference, Israel, Jerusalem. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, 2000. Web. 15 Sept. 2011.




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Engaging Employers in Youth Career Mentoring  
Engaging Employers in Youth Career Mentoring  

Engaging Employers in Youth Career Mentoring- a publication of Industry-Education Council of hamilton.