Monday, April 13, 2015

Lack of Guidance Counsellors in Ontario Prompts Entrepreneur to Expand Services

By Paul Fitzgerald

Fresh Careers Provides Unique Career and Life Coaching Solutions for Kids and Teens

It’s a staggering fact that only 14 per cent of Ontario elementary schools have access to guidance counsellors, and only 10 per cent have a counsellor on staff full-time.

Meanwhile, middle schools, those with grades 7 and 8, and high schools, have a higher percentage of guidance counsellors on staff but the average ratio of students to guidance counsellors is 391 to 1, which means students get little face time. This limits the amount of hands-on support that they should receive.

The lack of guidance counsellors and their availability demonstrates a challenged educational system on many levels. The result is purely damning for the future of kids and adolescents who are seeking the right guidance and inspirational leadership to help them on their life and career paths.

However, while the education system is grappling with cutbacks and changes in staffing priorities, a Grater Toronto Area (GTA) entrepreneur is stepping up in order to make a positive and long-term difference for the youth of tomorrow.

You see, Susan McKechnie of Fresh Careers is expanding her business to include a one-of-a-kind career planning and coaching service for youth. Her passion for helping others will certainly help a strained educational system and will benefit youth and their families on many levels.

McKechnie who has spent 20 years in the recruitment and staffing industry, has observed that new post-secondary grads are not prepared for the changing workforce.

As a certified Career Counsellor, she began to quickly realize that 1 in 4 post-secondary grads were working in unskilled labour. And in the GTA there is presently a 20 per cent unemployment rate for 24-34 year-olds.

 When she questioned guidance counsellors in high schools on the matter, the answer was they needed more support. They did not have enough time to spend with students with all of the other challenging issues that they are dealing with. The answer from college and university counsellors was that they are witnessing 75 per cent of first year students either dropping out or changing majors, costing themselves and parents money.

With this, McKechnie knew that expanding her specialized career and life planning service for kids and teens was more than needed due to the challenges being placed on an ever-so-changing educational system: elementary, middle school and high school.

This is why she has assembled a team – all of whom are committed to helping our youth in discovering the right career and life path while allowing them to make the right decisions today so that they have a brighter future.

The services that Fresh Careers offers are unique on every level and will benefit our youth, parents and will serve as a new and innovative branch for schools at all levels to utilize.

Some of the services Fresh Careers offer includes: Academic Road-map Planning, Career Exploration, Events and Workshops, and Academic, Life and Career Coaching.

McKechnie and her team of professionals will soon be working with schools in Halton and across the GTA.

“The expansion of Fresh Careers is an exciting venture,” says McKechnie. “Our youth need direction and leadership from the right sources. At present, the current system of career and life development is lacking in a big way in our educational system, and we know we will be here to make a positive difference for youth who need guidance and direction.”

She adds, “The right guidance and support means our youth will be better prepared for tomorrow.”

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