L'Horizon launches new high skills major
Isabelle Chaput said she knows it's going to take many years and a lot of hard work before she achieves her dream of becoming a physiotherapist - a master's degree is required to work in the profession.
That's why the Grade 11 student at École secondaire catholique l'Horizon said she's happy her school introduced a specialist high skills major in health and wellness this fall. The program gives students a taste of professions in this sector.
“(Physiotherapy is) a really hard program,” Chaput said. “That's why I want to see it before I do all that work and realize that I don't like it.”
Students start the two-year program when they're in Grade 11, and take the same courses as the rest of the student body, but the material is geared toward health and wellness, according to the school's principal, Brian Philipow.
Health-care workers in various fields come into the school to make presentations on their profession. Students also take certifications such as CPR throughout their time in the program, and are required to do a co-op in their chosen field.
They can also choose to take related courses at Laurentian University or Collège Boréal. These courses count not only toward their high school diploma, but also their post-secondary education.
About 40 students are already enrolled in the health and wellness specialist high skills major, but Philipow said he expects that number to grow in time, as many Grade 9 and 10 students have expressed interest in the program.
The school has also been offering a specialist high skills major in mining for about five years, he said.
“We chose those two, because should they wish to be successful in Northern Ontario, those are the two areas of employment that are looking to hire,” Philipow said.
“Let's face it. We know we are in the north, and that's where the jobs are. It's either related to mining or health, usually.”
Specialist high skills majors are offered by all of the school boards in the province in a number of areas, including agriculture, hospitality and tourism, business, non-profit, aviation and aerospace, business and forestry.
When a student graduates with a specialist high skills major, there's a seal on their diploma indicating they've completed the program.
“Certain post-secondary institutions are now giving priority enrolment to these students,” Philipow said.
“They've started looking into also giving them grants or bursaries. They are really saying that yeah, the experience is worthwhile.
“They know that they're acquiring students that are serious If you're a post-secondary institution, that's what you want, right? Somebody who's going to start and stay in a program.”
Although she's only a month into the school year, Chaput said that so far, she thinks the specialist high skills major program has much to offer.
“No matter what you learn in a classroom, it's still from a book,” she said.
“I'd rather learn from life experiences, because they're much more concrete, and they'll really help me decide if I really do or don't like what career that I'd be choosing.”