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MONTREAL, MAY 25, 2015Semiskilled workers are seeing increased demand in Canada’s job market in areas such as hospitality, construction, and manufacturing, the pedagogical consultant responsible for the English Montreal School Board’s Work-Oriented Training Path (WOTP) reports.

Travis Hall notes that the goal of WOTP is to provide struggling students with academic support and practical work training leading to certification in a semiskilled trade to increase their chances of employment when they finish school. “The emphasis WOTP places on students gaining experience and training outside of the classroom also creates opportunities to be involved in exciting adventures and projects that enrich their education and their surrounding communities,” says Mr. Hall.

At Mountainview Alternative High School in Côte Saint-Luc, WOTP students training for a Semiskilled Trade (TST) program realized that it can be difficult for many people to find the necessary professionals to complete small jobs around their homes. Landscapers and contractors typically prioritize larger projects, making it difficult to find labor for the smaller handyman type jobs. They decided to use their freshly acquired work skills and offer a solution to this issue. There volunteerism around the community eventually led to helping the Montreal Kidney Foundation with the relocation of their offices. The students’ knowledge from recent work practicums was used to properly transport and reinstall the office furniture and equipment with attention to organization, speed, and care. This was a gratifying experience for the students. They recognized that it allowed them to help an even greater community then just the one surrounding them.

Pre-work Training (PWT) students at John Grant High School in Côte Saint-Luc also decided that the skills they were learning could be used to help their local residents. Their WOTP program has a fully equipped woodshop which is used to provide students with preliminary training and to supplement their workplace training. Between classes and work placements, they happily accepted old and damaged wooden furniture from community members. They repaired and refinished the items into beautiful antiques that will now become heirlooms instead of ending up on a curb. They have also been asked to help with more unique projects, such as building a special home for a friendly neighbour’s beloved cats. When asked about their generosity, they quickly admit it is a win-win situation. They are able to give back to the community, practice their skills, and even learn some new ones.

Program Mile End’s Alternative High School students discovered the skills they were learning on their work practicums could be beneficial to others; they just didn’t expect it would be in their own school. Of the many projects they were involved in this year, the one they are most proud of is a collaboration with the students and teachers at Coronation Elementary School, whom they share a building with in Côte des Neiges. Students on work practicums as Assistant Childcare Educators initiated the project when they offered to help out at the elementary school. The TST students were a great resource to the teachers. They assisted with classroom activities, organized school supplies and equipment, and aided the younger students during outdoor activities. Both schools were exceptionally proud of the WOTP students and their willingness to give back to their own community.

Students at James Lyng High School in St. Henri has also had an exciting year of new experiences and great success. Their various work practicums have enabled the students to participate in a wide variety of workshops hosted by community partners. Students were part of an in-depth study of press photography that included a visit to the World Press Photo installation, while Merson Automotive and Bixi Bikes each held workshops for the students where they experienced hands on activities. The highlight of the year was inspired after a special work practicum some of the students were involved in as the TST students organized a successful fundraising project to help some of their best friends- the dogs and cats at the Montreal SPCA.

LINKS High School in Ahuntsic’s PWT students also experienced a work practicum that led to helping those in need. One of the students’ favorite work practicums is at Concordia University’s People’s Potato.  The students were given many responsibilities in the kitchen, including preparing all the vegetables used to cook the free daily meals given to over 400 of the university’s students and staff. As the school year came to a close and regular university classes began to wind down, the students decided they wanted to continue to provide meals to the hungry.  They asked the People’s Potato for help connecting with organizations that distributed food around Montreal. They then applied their experience at the university to their school’s kitchen and prepared special food baskets filled with carefully selected nutritious and nonperishable items. The PWT students were glad to have found a way to continue being part of the organizations that help those in need of a good wholesome meal.

The spirit of giving to the hungry could also be found at John F. Kennedy High School in St. Michel. At first the TST students were only involved in the organization and sorting of the school’s Christmas food donations. However, many of the students had experience working in the stock rooms and warehouses of large businesses and soon transformed the food collection into a full scale production that included building and decorating special baskets so the food could be delivered securely and presented in proper gift wrapped fashion. The TST students continued to offer their skills by then helping collect, sort, and deliver food baskets for local churches and Sun Youth. The students worked tirelessly over the Christmas holidays and were proud to use their work experience to make the distribution of food run smooth and conclude successfully.

“Looking back at the year, it has been amazing to see the confidence and independence of EMSB’s WOTP students grow as they have developed in the classroom and in their work placements,” stated Mr. Hall. “Their hard work and dedication has impressed their employers, their teachers, and everyone they have come into contact with.”

The WOT Pathway’s focus on individualized education enables each school to provide a program with unique learning environments and diverse opportunities that reflect their individual character and community. Students wishing to learn more about the WOTP should contact their guidance counsellor or Mr.  Hall at

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Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213