"What's Out There?"

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Skills Canada - Ontario
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

"To champion and stimulate the development of world class technological and employability skills in Ontario youth."

Submission Information

Impact Essay

“How often do you consider the importance of skilled trades? If your toilet flushes, the lights come on when you flip the switch and your furnace keeps you warm in winter, you probably never think of it. We take it for granted, but that won’t be the case much longer. “It’s not an overstatement to say we are facing a crisis. Most of Canada’s skilled trades workers are expected to retire in the next 10 years, and not enough young people are entering these professions to make up for that. “In addition, tech programs are being cut, and schools have dropped shop classes and diverted money to other things. “Some of the tech courses that still exist are not even at capacity because our society doesn’t encourage kids to study a trade. For years, it’s been seen as less desirable to study a skilled trade and parents, teachers and school guidance counselors have encouraged kids to go to college or university instead.” Mike Holmes, host of Holmes on Homes on HGTV, quoted from the Globe and Mail, June 6, 2008.

The shortage of skilled trade workers is real. The perception that skilled trades are dirty, boring, low-paying jobs is wrong. Skills Canada - Ontario is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to changing that perception and promoting skilled trades and technologies as viable, first-choice career options for Ontario youth.

We work daily to ensure that the youth of today know what careers in skilled trades and technologies really are: challenging, technologically advanced, hands-on, high-paying jobs. By providing information and hands-on programs to elementary, secondary and post-secondary level students, we are not only allowing them to make the most informed decisions regarding their career choices, but also encouraging them to follow their hearts and dreams. At the same time, we are fighting the skilled trades shortage by encouraging more youth to choose these careers.

As Mike Holmes stated above, too many parents, teachers and guidance counselors discourage bright, intelligent, talented students from entering the trades. Skills Canada – Ontario provides all elementary and secondary level students, regardless of “academic standing”, the opportunity to explore skilled trades and technologies as potential careers leading up to making their crucial post-secondary choices. Donations of several Microsoft products through TechSoup help us achieve this goal.

On a daily basis, Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007, donated through TechSoup, assists Skills Canada – Ontario in providing countless skilled trades and technology awareness programs across the province: in-school presentations, elementary workshops, skilled trade and technology competitions for elementary, secondary and post-secondary students, networking dinners for young women, young women’s conferences and summer day camps.

With Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007 Skills Canada – Ontario has been able to impact more youth across the province than ever before. It would be impossible to describe in detail all the benefits of this donation and the positive impact it has made for Skills Canada – Ontario. In truth, all Microsoft Office applications included in the donation, such as Word, Outlook, Excel and Publisher, are used effectively by all staff on a daily basis to deliver our programs successfully, but if a choice had to made, the greatest direct impact in terms of reaching youth with our message has been accomplished with Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007.

Using the PowerPoint application, Skills Canada – Ontario has created two interactive, approximately 45 minute long presentations that are delivered to tens of thousands of elementary and secondary level youth across Ontario during the school year. These presentations provide students the opportunity to learn about skilled trade and technology careers in a fun, interactive way. They help to dispel myths about skilled trades and provide truthful facts regarding the positive lifestyle potential of these careers. During the presentation students are also informed of all existing post-secondary options open to them, and encouraged to choose what is individually best for them, whether it be apprenticeship, college, university or work.

The “What’s Out There?” presentation has already been delivered to approximately 90,000 elementary and secondary students in Ontario during the 2008-2009 school year, with the month of June still to go. Our nine liaison officers working and traveling out of our head office in Kitchener and five satellite offices across the province – located in Toronto, Ottawa, Peterborough, Sudbury and Thunder Bay – deliver the same presentations to ensure consistency in message to all Ontario youth.

Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003, also donated through TechSoup, is the foundation of the Skills Canada – Ontario network that makes having these separate head and satellite offices possible. Offering the ability to create and configure a business quality Domain, Domain Controller, DHCP server, Fileserver, Sharepoint Portal Server, and Exchange E-mail Server has enabled the Skills Canada – Ontario team to function at a level current with today's standards of business. Most importantly, a secure centralized position ensures availability and accessibility of data both locally and securely over remote VPN tunnels. The goal technically of any not-for-profit should be to operate at a model in step with today's for-profit business. The donation of Small Business Servers through TechSoup has created a technical environment where Skills Canada – Ontario now works, connects, and shares ideas, information, and skill sets at a level with current business practices.

In addition, Microsoft Software Assurance provides the organization real piece of mind. With Software Assurance included in the donation, Skills Canada – Ontario can rest assured that current and future technological developments will remain within our grasp while valuable fundraising dollars will not need to be utilized for software purchasing in the foreseeable future.

There is still much work to be done. The skilled trades shortage is not looming in the future… it is upon us. Changing perceptions of careers in skilled trades and technologies continues to be a gigantic hurdle, but Skills Canada – Ontario is up to the challenge. We could not accomplish what we do without Microsoft products. Donations of software through TechSoup have been immeasurable in terms of their effect on the delivery of our programs and they will continue to be for years to come.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
Project Image
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