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A Three-Pronged Partnership for Change—Positive Outcomes for Aboriginal, Rural and Remote Students


by Kathy Harris


For the past three years, a new kind of business/education/career service partnership has been helping build Canada’s future—one person at a time. This is their partnership story.


Recognizing a Gap

Kathy Harris, now President of Jobmatics (whose mandate is to equip individuals and organizations with the tools and skills to set compelling and aligned career journeys), recognized an urgent need created by the shift in Canada’s work paradigm. The world is moving from an industrial, top-down way of operating to an information-dense, shared responsibility way of doing business. This shift requires all workers, including young people entering the workforce, to know how to recognize work that is a good fit.

Moreover, rapidly advancing technologies and expanding markets/competition mean constant change. Constant change means constant learning—only compelling if people are drawn to what they are learning about.

Good fits for work and learning have become critical success factors for Canada’s economy. However, current and emerging workers do not know how to identify work and learning that is a good fit for them. This was the gap Kathy filled by creating her career decision-making process—Career Focusing™.


A Partnership is Born

Elaine Stewart, an employee of the Government of the Northwest Territories, Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE), learned about Career Focusing™ and recognized it immediately as a missing piece in their classrooms. The good news was Career Focusing™ had already been developed into a classroom-ready program by Penny Hopkins, a guidance and career education department head, who recognized the need for a how-to program. Penny also co-authored a little-sister program (Smart Focusing™) for junior high students. Together, the programs provide a scoped, sequenced and developmental “how-to-make-career-decisions” program that gives students in grades 7 to 12 the tools and skills they need to make sophisticated career decisions they will stick with.

With full endorsement from ECE, Elaine wanted to implement the program but needed a funding partner. Happily, a mine operating in the Northwest Territories was looking for a sustainable way to invest in their Impact Benefit Agreement (IBA) communities, with a focus on youth. Elaine introduced them to the Jobmatics programs that not only equip teachers with a how-to method to teach their students, but is also sustainable because Jobmatics develops territorial trainers to keep the training and support going. A new kind of partnership was born.

The partnership is unique because businesses/sectors typically partner with education to attract students, but the mine looked beyond this to the broader needs of their communities. They understood that young people who are on compelling career journeys contribute more fully to their families, communities and country. The mine’s funding support is equipping schools to build their students’ capacity in setting career plans and putting them into action thereby becoming fully engaged, highly productive, healthy contributors to their world—wherever their journeys may take them.


The Benefits of the Partnership

Ultimately, the mine (and the mining sector) will benefit both directly and indirectly from their investment. The mine’s IBA community relations are enhanced because they are investing in the youth of these communities. As well, they are underwriting the expansion of a well-educated and focused future labour force pool, which they—and other employers—can draw from. Furthermore, those students who do choose to work for a mine will be more likely to engage in the ongoing learning necessary for advancement.

This mine’s focus is on building students’ capacity to make career decisions they stick with. The outcomes are extremely positive, especially with Aboriginal, rural and remote location students. It is the hope of those involved in this project that other corporate and education groups will see the benefits of building a better Canada—one person at a time—by  partnering to bring how-to career decision-making programs to other classrooms across Canada.


Kathy Harris, a 35-plus-year veteran of the career industry and President of Jobmatics, is author of a ground-breaking how-to program for making career decisions that take people to work and learning that is a good fit so their decisions have sticking power. It is being used across Canada with people in grade 7 through to retirement to help them recognize work and learning that they will be excited about and committed to doing.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 10:56

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