The school-to-work transition
Government & Community Affairs
RBC Financial Group
The Learning Partnership AGM
Delta Chelsea Hotel
Thursday, June 6, 2002
Thank you for the warm introduction Peter
been looking forward to joining you tonight for several
reasons, in part because the development of my remarks,
"The School-to-Work Transition" has coincided
with recent family transitions. We're all affected by transitions
in one-way or another, whether they're our own and even
when they're not. Transitions start early on and continue
throughout our lives and careers. Children make the transition
from home to school. Young adults make the transition from
school to work
and everyone is impacted by transitions
that reflect turning points and milestones in life.
Friday, my oldest son Andrew graduated from Queen's University.
He originally didn't want to go to his convocation, but
with some prodding, we found ourselves in Kingston. It was
a proud moment for both Andrew and our family
were especially thrilled, as they made the trip from England
to attend. The talk of the weekend revolved around Andrew's
plans and not surprisingly there was some animated discussion
about "what next". From working and traveling
across the country/abroad for the next year, to pursuing
his Masters down the road, we know that one choice at a
time is a path well taken. And although the proverbial,
"it's important to make a good living" may cause
some family fireworks every now and then, we also
know that Andrew's school-to-work transition will take various
twists and turns - and that's OK.
If this isn't enough, my daughter Catherine graduates from Pickering
College next week. She's decided to work in Toronto for
the summer and then move to London and Western University
in the fall. Another transition in the family
it's about moving on, sometimes it's about letting go and
sometimes it's about preparing for the future, but every
time it's about managing change. I'm sure some of you are
thinking about your own transition stories right now and
would agree that they're more like a journey, rather than
an event. Whether it's a life cycle or work cycle transition,
it's bound to be a learning adventure, as I'm sure
Andrew would say.
many years, people here today (and countless others) have
made an important and collective contribution to providing
young people with school-to-work support. We've done it
in the only way to maximize results: by creating strong
partnerships among schools, businesses, government, labour
organizations and communities - by adopting a holistic approach.
look around the room, let's thank the educators/administrators
for the time and effort they've invested to integrate an
academic and career/work experience curriculum. Let's also
thank the business and labour leaders who continue to recognize
that schools can't do it alone - that we have a responsibility,
especially as benefactors, to actively participate in school-to-work
transition programs and activities. And let's thank our
government partners for helping to lead the way.
thank our communities too
they deserve special recognition
for embracing rather than rejecting change. Let's thank
The Learning Partnership (TLP) team for "giving students
some dynamic opportunities to enrich their education".
And finally, let's thank the students who demonstrate time
and time again that our investment pays huge dividends.
From parents, teachers and volunteers, to executives, board members
and champions of youth, your readiness to reach beyond the
parameters of the norm - the familiar and comfortable -
makes a tremendous and positive difference to the futures
of thousands of young people.
To Laura Elliott, Durham District School Board, Donna Cansfield,
Toronto District School Board, Maureen McCullough, Yorkview
Public School, Michael Frankfort, Ventura Park Public School,
Marine Perran, Ministry of Education and Training, Greg
McCamus, Sprint Canada, Joanne Papari, Biochem Environmental
Solutions, Kim Galvez, Galvez Associates, David McCordic,
McMillan Binch, James Levins, Imperial Oil Limited, Doug
MacPherson, Canadian Steel Trade and Employment Congress,
Lu Ann Hill-MacDonald, Aboriginal Institutes Consortium,
Madhu Verma, New Brunswick Women's Intercultural Network,
Morrey Ewing, The Change Alliance, Don McCreesh, Celestica
Inc. and Courtney Pratt, Toronto Hydro (if only there was
time to name all of you), special thanks for your interest
and for what I often refer to as leadership in action.
In addition to saying thank you, I want to challenge everyone
to continue playing a leadership role by encouraging other
educators, other business colleagues/associates and other
community directors and administrators to do what many of
you are doing. Sharing best practices, inviting individuals
to workplaces or schools and connecting decision-makers/influencers
to students so that they hear directly about the success
of school-to-work transition programs, are just a handful
of ideas. RBC Financial Group supports "school-to-work"
initiatives in Toronto and across the country because the
link between education and economic prosperity is simply
too significant to ignore.
have gathered feedback from students and parents (employees)
who have participated in school-to-work programs that RBC
supports via The Learning Partnership. Here's a sampling
of what they have to say about their involvement in Take
Our Kids to Work (TOKW).
"I have a much better understanding of what my host
does, what the workplace is like and what people do at
work." "I finally realize that you need to take
math in high school if you want to have a successful job."
"It was a great experience telling my daughter and
two other guests what I do and what the organization is
all about. The kids I hosted asked questions such as:
Why did you choose this job? What do you like about it?
If there's one thing you could change, what would it be?"
When students visit RBC for Career Days or for TOKW, our staff
has a better idea of what to expect and how to relate to
young people because they've spent time in schools via the
Building Collaborative Learning Cultures program,
or they've shared their TLP experiences with colleagues.
Here are a couple of employee comments:
benefited personally/professionally by building and applying
my skills as a business change agent/facilitator in a
school environment. This personal development has enabled
me to be more effective in my role within RBC Learning
Services. We collaborated on change readiness projects
during the year and this led to a stronger team/communication
environment within the school group." To know that
this work ultimately impacts students is an incredible
partnered with two school teams, one of which launched
a new school in Peel - Rick Hansen Secondary School -
with a strong focus on technology and an integrated learning
culture. Over the years, many RBCers have volunteered
as business partners - we assist with planning, team vision,
on-boarding of new staff/leadership group, assessment
and prioritizing of change projects. I also mentored other
business partners for two years - sharing ideas, tools,
stories, by supporting and networking." What we bring
back to our jobs and RBC is immeasurable.
And there's more
the Turning Points essay contest for students
not only revolves around solid written communication skills
and the importance of values, it's a fun, learning project
for members of our team. When assessing various student
essays, they more clearly see why and how one of RBC's corporate
values, i.e., "diversity for growth/innovation"
can make a significant difference.
As one staff member says, "I was involved in the design of
Turning Points operating in GTA. The program allows young
people to focus on role models/events that have helped shaped
their lives and to better understand the impact of mentors."
Turning Points encourages students to celebrate their differences
and think about their futures.
I take great pleasure in mentioning that this fall, RBC Royal Bank
will participate in a Passport to Prosperity pilot.
From Take our Kids to Work in grade 9, and work experience
or job shadowing the next year, to co-op/summer placements
and full-time/part-time employment after graduation, this
three-four year school-to-work program enables us to build
relationships with various students. On May 28th in Toronto,
and as part of the Provincial Partnership Council's Passport
to Prosperity campaign, it was gratifying to see a number
of business and community leaders challenging other organizations
to offer workplace experience. The Employer Challenge campaign
will hopefully translate into workplace opportunities for
the more than 700,000 Ontario students in grades 9-12.
RBC's commitment to the school-to-work transition also involves
our After-School Grants program, the "earn and learn"
Aboriginal Stay in School Program, the "no experience,
no job, no experience" Career Edge
partnership, a forty-five year association with Junior Achievement
programs and an Education Advisory Panel whose expertise
helps us concentrate on the right initiatives that keep
kids in school and prepare them for the workplace. This
panel includes TLP board member Michael Fullan and former
President, Gordon Cressy. I want to add that together with
Career Edge, the Canadian Bankers Association offers a pilot
internship program in the GTA called Ability Edge that provides
valuable on-the-job financial services work experience,
as well as skills and training, to college and university
graduates with disabilities.
Connecting what students learn in the classroom and how they apply
this learning in the workplace makes good sense. Providing
both students and educators with more opportunities to discover
and experience the work environment also makes good sense.
Student participation/energy in the workplace, talking to
young people about their futures and nurturing positive
attitudes about work, not to mention, professional development
for employees, makes school-to-work programs and our total
relationship with TLP a win/win scenario for RBC - and for
other corporations/businesses too.
The students here today know the benefits of these school-to-work
programs only too well - the displays we saw at the reception
tell the story. Making informed choices about career options
and studies, building relationships with prospective employers
and enhancing work/life skills and future employability,
are some of the marvelous possibilities that just don't
carry a price tag when it comes to realizing goals and dreams.
It's been said that, "the capacity to learn is our most
abundant and precious resource." Education is the foundation
of Canada's economic well-being and the prerequisite to
sustaining our quality of life. This makes school-to-work
transition programs - programs that help bridge the gap
between learning and working - that much more of a high
RBC Financial Group wants to help build a sense of urgency and
momentum toward learning adventures in schools and in workplaces.
In order to succeed, we need more help, more participation
and more players. We need our partners in business and we
also need parents, governments, communities and the media
to join the crusade of promoting school-to-work learning.
We also need to focus on aboriginal children. As Ethel Blondin-Andrew,
Secretary of State (Children and Youth) said at a Native
Women's Youth Board Territorial Youth Conference: "the
aboriginal population is the fastest growing segment of
Canada's workforce. More than half of this population is
under 25. About 400,000 aboriginal young people are poised
to enter the job market over the next 20 years. Promising
job opportunities and potential careers will help aboriginal
children make the transition from school to work."
In order for learning to become a way of life, increasing
educational opportunities must become the shared goals of
stakeholders - from students and teachers, to parents and
grandparents, to business people and volunteers. As a father
and businessman, I'm strongly convinced that our children
deserve nothing less. And while my children experience the
school-to-work adventure, I also want to be there to help
guide them along the way
Again, I congratulate everybody on the progress we're making. Special
thanks to Peter McInenly, Veronica Lacey (who will receive
an honourary degree from Brock University on June 10th for
her distinguished contribution to education in Canada and
especially Ontario), Lori Cranson and Madelyn Reynolds for
their support. The RBC team, especially Kirby Gavelin, who
serves on the TLP board, Jackie Tuffin, who's here this
evening, George Raptis, who got involved because of Madelyn's
encouragement and came out tonight, along with colleagues
Don Ekstrom, member of the TLP program committee, Shelley
Lockhart, Lori Mistry, Christine Suski, Natasha Kassim and
many volunteers that support TLP/other education initiatives
- shares in the pride.
We look forward to working with all of you in the months and years
ahead - to experiencing more learning adventures! And remember