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Trekking into the working world

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Career Trek Get Ready to Work! participants Maryjean Valdez (centre) and Maggie Twovoice (right) with Career Trek student employee Belle Austria.

JARED STORY Enlarge Image

Career Trek Get Ready to Work! participants Maryjean Valdez (centre) and Maggie Twovoice (right) with Career Trek student employee Belle Austria. Photo Store

Career Trek believes it has the recipe for success.

From July 7 to 11, the Winnipeg not-for-profit ran a culinary arts summer camp at Tech Voc High School. The camp, funded by a grant from The Winnipeg Foundation, included 15 students who just completed Grade 9 and marked the first time Career Trek has offered its Get Ready to Work! programming during the summer months.

"These kids are learning everything about being a professional chef and a little about being a professional baker and they get to experience it by doing," said Shanker Singh, Get Ready to Work! program manager.

"They’re cooking all day, they’re serving some staff in the building that come here for lunch, and all the food they’re making they get to eat.

"Ninety per cent is hands-on and then a little bit of theory. We try to keep it fun for the kids. We do have some resources for them, talking about workplace skills, not just the hands-on skills, but also learning about what it’s like to be in a workplace, professionalism, teamwork and communication."

In addition to the culinary camp, Career Trek ran a construction summer camp at Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (7 Fultz Blvd.) from July 7 to 11, funded by Apprenticeship Manitoba with support from the Manitoba Construction Sector Council. A second construction camp started on July 14 and runs until July 18.

Both the culinary and construction camps ended with a final celebration. In the culinary camp, the students served food to their family and friends, and in the construction camp, the students presented the dog homes they built, which were then donated to the Winnipeg Humane Society.

"It (the finale) gives them a chance to teach what they’ve learned over four and a half days to the people who matter most in their life, which gives them a big sense of accomplishment," Singh said.

Culinary camp participant Emily Hopps said working in the kitchen is very gratifying. The 14-year-old, who will be attending Vincent Massey Collegiate next school year, said she especially loves chopping vegetables.  

"You have control over something," said Hopps, who aims to one day be a foods and nutrition teacher.

"When you go out into the world, you don’t really have control over what happens, and then you come into the kitchen and you have complete control over what’s going to happen and you get to take all that credit for it. It makes you feel good when you see other people enjoying it."

Ruth Stargardter, Career Trek career development specialist, said the skills learned through Get Ready to Work! can be applied at any job.

"We’re not saying kids have to pick culinary arts or construction as their dream job. It’s about them developing skills, confidence and decision making and problem solving skills," Stargardter said.

"It’s not just a matter of feeding kids the line that there’s a skills shortage, depressing them, making them feel anxious. It’s a matter of empowering them."

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