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When Should Career Exploration Start? CERIC Says Middle School

When we think of targeting students for the skilled trades, it’s safe to assume that most of us think of high school or post-secondary students. The Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC) wants us to think earlier. CERIC suggests that middle schoolers, approximately grades 4-8 in Canada, have a “strong sense of their personal futures”. If you’re having doubts about that, consider this: have you ever asked a kid in your life, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. Chances are they took that well intentioned question to heart and they’ve thought long and hard about that decision. A common conversation starter to adults often carries a lot of weight to a child. 

How to Support Career Exploration in Middle School

CERIC suggests support for career exploration in Canadian middle schools in their article, “Planting the Seeds of Career Exploration In Middle School Students” with the following short term and long term goals:

Short Term Goals for Middle School Career Exploration  

  1. Host career days and include careers from all sectors. 
  2. Invite students to dress up as different occupations and present about those careers to their classes; many kids don’t know about the opportunities in the skilled trades and might not have an opportunity to learn about them. 
  3. Invite guest speakers to the classroom, including those successful locally in the skilled trades.

Long Term Goals for Middle School Career Exploration

  1. Provide resources for teachers and school personnel, many of which are free or inexpensive, like: 
    1. My Blueprint Education Planner: offers 2 online career development and self-awareness programs
      1. All About Me: offers specific programming for elementary and middle school students
      2. Career Cruising: offers a comprehensive system designed to engage students from kindergarten through grade 12
  2. Offer career guidance for the middle school years to help students: 
    1. Develop awareness of who they are
    2. Understand their strengths and weaknesses
    3. Identify what they enjoy and don't enjoy
    4. Help communicate the positive personal character traits that serve best in specific careers
    5. Connect soft skills to curriculum

While career decisions are built and change over time, middle school is the best opportunity to introduce all careers to your students, ensuring generations of kids won’t count out careers in all sectors, including the skilled trades.  

Career Exploration Hubs Help Students Connect With Employers

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External links are provided as informational resources only and are not necessarily endorsed by Ontario East.


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