Martin C. Barry
Held on Oct. 16 at the St. Pius X Career Centre, the English Montreal School Board’s 2019 Career Fair drew hundreds of potential students, including many EMSB secondary five undergraduates, looking for promising new careers.
Job boom underway
All were eager to improve their knowledge and skills in order to land one of the many jobs available in the Montreal region’s booming employment market.
Every year, according to Harriet Cohen, an EMSB education consultant who co-chairs the committee organizing the career fair, the board’s secondary five students are brought to the career fair.
A range of vocations
They are shown that, should they not be able to graduate from high school, there are other programs available in vocational areas. Around 25 vocational programs were promoted at the 2019 EMSB Career Fair.
The EMSB has four career and vocational centres: St. Pius X on Papineau Ave. in east-central Montreal, Laurier Macdonald on Jean Talon St. in St. Léonard, Rosemount Technology Centre on Beaubien St. East in Montreal and Shadd Health and Business Centre in the city’s west end.
Jobs for immigrants
According to Cohen, the vocational and career centres see a lot of students pass through who were well qualified educationally in their countries of origin, although their credentials are unfortunately not recognized in Quebec.
“So in order to support their families they have to come and re-train,” she said.
“And then we also have people who worked for companies that downsized. These are people who have to change their jobs. And, of course, they need to be trained. That’s where we come in to teach them new skills so they can find work and support their families.”
A fast growing sector
According to the EMSB’s chief information officer Mike Cohen, the board has an enrolment of more than 20,000 students in vocational programs each year, and it has been growing incrementally. “Since we started it 21 years ago, the numbers have doubled,” he said.
As he pointed out, the rate of successful job placement for jobs such as auto mechanics is virtually one hundred per cent. “You get a job almost before you’ve graduated,” he said. In many other vocations, the average hiring rate is at least 80 per cent.
Meeting employment needs
“There’s a need out there,” added Harriet Cohen. “There are employers who are begging us. They’re saying, ‘Send us your graduates,’ and they’ve already got jobs to offer.” Added to this, she pointed out, tuition in the EMSB’s vocational programs is completely free to anyone who can prove they are a Quebec resident.
“If you are a Quebec resident the government pays for your courses,” she said, noting that many private colleges based in Quebec offer similar or identical training programs while charging many thousands of dollars for tuition.