Pathways began its pilot program in May of this year by welcoming 9 very enthusiastic students. Recent graduates from high schools were told of a program beginning with Youth Connect that would give them the training tools they would need to find employment in the tourism industry.
The students have a packed schedule during the four-month training program, attending classes from 8:30-5:00 Monday through Friday. One of the main objectives is functional English proficiency. Upon arrival, the students’ comprehension was very limited and they were quite shy and hesitant to speak. However, with support from their teacher coupled with their dedicated study habits, their comprehension has grown substantially. They are now much more comfortable in class and much more inclined to speak up and ask questions. This has also been a major part of the Life Skills component, helping the students in their critical thinking and decision-making capacity. This aspect of training will improve their ability to communicate efficiently, work together in teams, and make practical life choices.
Another major element of the program is computer proficiency. For most of the students this was unfamiliar territory, but with practice they have become much more comfortable and are able to do tasks that will be required once they enter the hospitality industry. A few of the students have quickly flourished, assisting their peers and helping out when questions arise. With this training they will be much more comfortable using computers and will be able to perform tasks using programs such as Power Point and Excel.
Once a week students visit the Hospitality and Catering Training. Here they gain hands-on training, gaining invaluable skills such as front of house, restaurant, and kitchen training. On weekends, the students visit Picturebook to see the inner workings of a guesthouse. Adding to their hospitality skills, they learn firsthand what goes into running one, from general maintenance to housekeeping.
Students are tested bi-weekly and there will be final exams to view their progress. They are also given feedback sessions with their teachers and trainers, where their input is listened to and taken into account to see if any adjustments are needed for the next program. Their trainers have made it a point to impress upon the students that asking questions is always a good thing and that making mistakes is all part of the learning process. They have now greatly opened up and are more inclined to speak up (more life skills!). They are extremely eager to learn and are constantly reiterating that they want to do their best and make the most of their time here.
After the initial four-month training is up, the students will have a three-month work placement which Youth Connect will provide a stipend for. Because word has already spread about the Pathways program and the high skill set that students will return with, others have already begun to contact our representatives. Now that students have learned what a great opportunity the Pathways program is, over 50 have already expressed interest in joining the next program.