Education pilot project brings career advisers to 19 N.W.T. schools

A Department of Education pilot program in the Northwest Territories is connecting students with career and education counsellors.

Career and education counselling program to expand to more schools next year

Education and career advisers work with students at East Three Secondary School in Inuvik, N.W.T. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

Over the past two weeks at East Three Secondary School in Inuvik, N.W.T., students in grades 9-12 have sat down with career and education advisers to talk about what jobs they might like to pursue in the future and how to prepare for them.

It's part of a two-year pilot program by the Northwest Territories Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) that started in 19 schools this year. It will expand to every secondary school next year.

Educators in Inuvik say they hope the pilot program will improve the success of students after graduation. East Three was one of two schools in the Beaufort Delta region selected to take part in the pilot program.

"We feel it's on us to help them learn about what it is that's out there for them above and beyond the community, but worldwide," said Gene Jenks, the school's principal.

Inuvik East Three Secondary School principal Gene Jenks. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

"This program really prioritizes it and makes our students consider just what interests them, what doesn't interest them, and how to go about and taking the next step."

Deana Twissell, the department's director of education and student transition, said engagement sessions with both employers and job-seekers in the territory found that job demand is strong until 2030, but "78 per cent of those jobs require post-secondary education."

"Our labour market information shares with us so many job openings that are coming and that we know are in existence today that are really difficult to staff," said Twissell.

"It's really important to inform youth of those opportunities now, and to work backwards with them at a younger age, so that they're not disappointed after Grade 12."

Deanna Twissell, director of education and student transition with the N.W.T. Department of Education, Culture and Employment, says most jobs will require post-secondary education. (Submitted by Deanna Twissell)

Twissel said the six career education advisers hired for this pilot program started to meet with students across the territory in March and will continue until June.

$1.9M investment

According to a department spokesperson, ECE has invested $1.9 million of its operating budget into the pilot program.

Adam Jarvis is one of the career advisers who has been visiting students in Inuvik this past week.

"A lot of the students are really inquiring about certain careers," he said. "Some of them are just asking questions about who they are as a person and what sorts of things they can get into that appeal to their interests."

He said advisers have brought up jobs that are available in the students' communities, but they also talk about careers that "may not be obvious" that meet students' interests.

"[Think] about what you want to do in the future; the sooner, the better," he said.

Tyler Gordon-Bahr, 14, says he's not sure what he wants to do yet, but he hopes it'll have something to do with sports.

Tyler Gordon-Bahr is a Grade 9 student at East Three Secondary School in Inuvik. (Mackenzie Scott/CBC)

The Grade 9 student said although he's not sure if post-secondary education is the route for him, the advisers gave him different things to think about.

"I feel like the jobs they suggested could help me find what classes and programs I could take throughout high school, or even university or college," he said.

As students graduate, Jenks is hopeful each one will have the ability to succeed as they go on in the next chapters of their lives. He believes students having access to these advisers will help.

"These career [and] education advisers are making a point to tell everybody that there is a lot available for all types of learners, all types of interests."