Palliser students get a look at their future

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Jayden Vanderkraates tries his hand at the sheet metal worker booth at the Youth Exploring Trades and Technology workshop, while fellow Kate Andrews High School student Kierra Peters looks on.

The Health Care Expo was an eye-opening experience for hundreds of students from across southern Alberta. For Rayn Perry,  the event –  one of two career fairs held on the day at Exhibition Park – was not only an opportunity to consider the options but also find out the qualifications needed to get into those lines of work.

The Grade 11 student from Kate Andrews High School learned one of the challenges in the health care field is the type of marks needed to even get into the program at college or university.

“They also gave me a list of different schools to look at, which is cool because the idea of getting out there and figuring out where you have to go and what you want to be is scary, so it gives you some guidelines,” said Perry.

Eighteen Grade 11 and 12 Palliser students from Coaldale and Picture Butte High School (PBHS) were among those taking part in the Health Care Expo or the Youth Exploring Trades and Technologies (YETT) workshop, both hosted by Chinook Regional Foundation for Career Transitions.

The fifth edition of the YETT workshop allowed students an opportunity to explore first-hand the opportunities in fields ranging from agronomist to welding and everything in between including auto body technician, interior design and wind turbine technician. Students were encouraged to choose and participate in six interactive experiences at the trades and technology booths.

Shaye Vavra Peacock of PBHS checked out booths on careers including power line technician and welding.

“That kind of stuff interests me. And the guys there really explained in detail about it so it was kind of nice to have that kind of depth of information,” said the Grade 11 student.

Although Peacock has some experience in welding and is considering that career option, he went into the workshop with an open mind.

“I’m still looking into it and just learning about what I’d like to do for the rest of my life,” he said.

The Health Care Expo was celebrating its second year. A recent surge in the number of students showing interest in health care careers, as well as the ongoing demand for professionals in that industry, brought about its reality last year.

The exhibitor list included such options as audiology, registered dietician, respiratory therapist and volunteer resources. After students checked out exhibitor booths of their choice, they had the opportunity to watch an exercise where all the different health care professions worked together in the care of one patient.

Perry said she likes helping others and that’s why the KAHS student is favouring a career in health care. While she was aware of related occupations like doctors and dentists, she was interested in learning about other options the field holds.

Perry checked out booths including x-ray technician, occupational therapy and hearing aid practioner, with physiotherapy her favourite. Although she loves teaching, a classroom wouldn’t be her choice of workplace.

“I want to be teaching where I can interact with one person and show them ways that can help them,” she said. “That’s why I like the idea of physiotherapy. It’s super hands on, but it’s also teaching a person how to make their body healthier, so that’s cool.”

Susan Schmidt was one of two Palliser career and academic counsellors accompanying the students from Coaldale and Picture Butte. The chance for students to experience a wide-variety of trades and health care related careers was a valuable one, especially given the hands-on components.

“Whether it’s simulating welding or having a stethoscope in their ear for the first time to listen to a heartbeat, I think it’s a really good opportunity,” she said.

While it’s natural to ask about the rewards of certain careers – especially the paycheque –  Schmidt suggested students also inquire out about potential drawbacks.

“Wage can be a component, but you’ve got to think about things like lifestyle as well – like working shiftwork and do you want a family and to be able to work around that,” she said. “You spend more time at work than anywhere else, so you really have to consider everything that goes into picking a career.”

Although some high school students may be anxious if they haven’t yet nailed down a career path, Schmidt said those who have a preconceived notion as to how their future is going to unfold may miss out.

“Being open and flexible to opportunities that arise before their dream job comes along is something for them to consider as well,” she said.