Pathways Planning and Supports

The York Region District School Board offers a variety of programs and opportunities that honour all Pathways including apprenticeship, college, university and the workplace. Our Pathways programs and opportunities provide students the space, time and opportunities to engage in authentic experiential learning to acquire, refine and apply acquired competencies, make clear connections to their subject curriculum, explore a variety of post-secondary destinations and career pathways and successfully transition to their first of post-secondary destination.

The York Region District School Board recognizes the importance of raising the achievement of  our underserved and underperforming students. In alignment with the Director’s Action Plan, Pathways Programs support mental health by providing diverse programming that support students in finding a path to success, builds relationships with students and the community through pathways activities and events, champions equity and inclusivity by working to identify and remove barriers to post-secondary destinations for students and elevates student voice in the pathway planning process. York Region District School Board offers many different programs that help students gain skills and experiences as well as explore a variety of career pathways.


Pathways Programs

Cooperative Education Program (Co-op)

Co-op benefits students in all pathways, including apprenticeship, college, university or the workplace. Co-op students learn, gain work experience and earn credits in an industry related to their career choice or Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) Sector.

In 2018-2019, YRDSB delivered 22,782 Co-op credits with a 98% success rate. Through Co-op, students can develop knowledge, skills and attitudes through hands-on experiences; explore their interests and career opportunities; learn more about different pathways to help them make informed education and career decisions; develop maturity and self-confidence; make valuable connections and build a network; complete the program requirements of the Specialist High Skills Major and participate in specialized Co-op programs.


Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)

A Co-op student becomes an OYAP student when they pursue  a Co-op placement in a skilled trade. Through OYAP, students can take the first step towards a career path in the trades, receive training that leads to a registered apprenticeship program, earn apprenticeship hours and secondary school credits at the same time.

There are 600 OYAP students in Grades 11 and 12 who have attempted 4,383 credits with a 96% success rate. Grade 12 OYAP students who demonstrate competencies in a trade and an interest in pursuing it as a post-secondary destination, have an opportunity to become a Registered Apprentice with their Co-op Placement and Supervisor. 

In 2018-2019, there were 95 Grade 12 OYAP students registered at one of the three yearly Apprenticeship Group Signings. There were 45 OYAP students who registered as apprentices, applied to the “Accelerated OYAP Program” and pursued a Level 1 Training at a GTA College or at the College of Carpenters in one of the following trades: Auto Service Technician, Baker, Cook, Child Development Practitioner, Electrician, Floor Covering Installer, General Carpenter, Plumber, Residential Air Conditioning, and Truck and Coach Technician.  

The Accelerated OYAP Level 1 students attempted 79 Dual Credits with a 91% success rate. 


Technological Education: 

The purpose of the technological education program is to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enhance their ability to achieve success in secondary school, the workplace, postsecondary education or training, and daily life. These courses focus on developing a creative and flexible approach to problem solving that will help students address challenges in various areas throughout their lives; develop the skills, including critical thinking and research skills; conduct inquiries; communicate findings accurately, ethically, and effectively; and achieve a level of technological competence students will need to succeed. All YRDSB secondary schools offer a range of technological education programs. 

In 2018-2019, YRDSB offered a variety of technology courses including Construction Technology, Green Industries, Hair Styling and Aesthetics, Hospitality and Tourism, Manufacturing Technology and Transportation Technology. There were a total of 6,391 students enrolled in a secondary technological education course across the system.


Exploring Opportunities Program (EOP) 

YRDSB has six high schools offering specialized regional programs that allow students to focus on developing a high skill level in a particular technology (i.e. transportation; construction; entrepreneurship).  Students participate in industry approved certification, reach ahead opportunities, guest speaker sessions, industry shows and conferences and authentic experiential learning in the classroom and in the community.  


Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM)

The SHSM program allows students to focus their learning on a sector of interest. Students can also earn sector-recognized certifications, gain valuable skills and experience, and discover new career pathways through the various SHSM programs.   

In 2018-2019, all 33 secondary schools had an average of three SHSM programs representing 14 sectors and engaging 2,874 students. YRDSB had a 73% average completion rate, which exceeded the provincial average by 10%. 


Dual Credit

Through Dual Credits, Grade 11 and 12 students experience the college pathway and earn college credits while still in secondary school. This program is a partnership with local colleges and is available at all YRDSB secondary schools.  

In 2018-2019, there were a total of 467 college delivered dual credits delivered with an 89% success rate.  Every secondary school in the region had participants in the dual credit program in the 2018-2019 school year. Through dual credits, students can take one course on a college campus and earn a high school credit and a college credit at the same; take college-level courses to enhance skills and explore their interests; access free college tuition, free textbooks and subsidized transportation; and receive support with the transition to college.


Efforts to Increase Awareness Of and Exposure To Technology, Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Pathways for All Students 

  • The Cooperative Education Program and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) provides students additional opportunities to take part in industry approved certifications, reach aheads/guest speakers with Industry partners and workshop/conferences related to their career pathway. 
  • As an extension, Grade 12 OYAP students interested in pursuing a career in a trade may become registered apprentices with their Co-op Placement under the mentorship of their Co-op Supervisor and work towards becoming certified in a skilled trade. The hours or competencies acquired during their OYAP program may count towards their apprenticeship hours and secondary school credits at the same time.
  • A third extension to the OYAP/Co-op program, Accelerated OYAP Dual Credit, is the opportunity for Grade 12 OYAP students (in their graduating year) interested in pursuing a career in a trade may participate in a Level 1 Apprenticeship Training at a Training Delivery Agency (College or Union Trade Centre) with their Co-op Placement under the mentorship of their Co-op Supervisor. 
  • ​Exploring Opportunities Program (EOP) hosted by six YRDSB schools focus on the following trade sectors: Construction, Green Industries, Manufacturing, Small Engines and Transportation.EOP is designed for students that are underperforming and underserved.  It provides students the opportunity to focus on developing high level skills in a particular technology, earn industry approved certifications, authentic experiential learning opportunities in school and in the community.  
  • Specialist High Skills Major: In 2018-2019, schools were supported by the regional SHSM teachers and Board Lead in their delivery of the SHSM program requirements. In addition to the school based offerings, the regional team organized and facilitated regional SHSM activities. Some of those included: SHSM Arts and Culture Theatre Industry Panel and SHSM Sector Partner Contextualized Experiences (SPCE) through Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) activities in partnership with several community and municipal organizations.
  • Dual Credit: Through Dual Credits, Grade 11 and 12 students experience college and earn college credits  while still in secondary school. This program is a partnership with local colleges and is available at all YRDSB secondary schools. We continue to Increase dual credit opportunities in the North and West area schools through the addition of Humber College (September 2018) and new dual credits offered through Fleming College. The program is advertised through Dual Credit Regional Teachers, brochures and promotional videos that highlight student voices. A School Within A College (SWAC) regional program will be added for the 2020-21 school year.
  • School College Work Initiative (SCWI) Activities: This program supports students from Grades 7-12 as well as Adult Learners to participate in a one day experiential learning activity at one of the GTA colleges to showcase the various Skilled Trades and Technology based careers. In addition, educators in Grades 7-8 have the opportunity to participate in professional learning to support the use of hand tools in the classroom and conversations about skilled trades and technologies. Events include Connecting GTA Teachers (CGTAT) Stepping Stones to Post Secondary Forum, Promoting Skilled Trades and Technology events at GTA colleges. Students are also provided with opportunities to visit a variety of colleges to raise their awareness of programming at colleges, particularly with respect to the trades, promote women in the trades, support students with an identification,  and engage in hands-on activities.
  • Community Connected Experiential Learning (CCEL): CCEL projects build collaborative relationships with community partners that focus on  supporting and helping facilitate experiential learning projects connected to student interests and curriculum. CCEL school/classroom based projects provide students with opportunities to co-plan and co-construct inquiry-based learning projects that reflect student needs and interests. CCEL funds help to build the capacity of teachers in schools by providing enriching experiential learning opportunities that are community connected, based on student voice, rooted in Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy and modern learning practices. A variety of community-connected projects across both the elementary and secondary panels is supported.
  • York Region Skills Challenges (YRSC): YRSC provides additional pathways opportunities for students and teachers that promote authentic experiential learning activities and builds skills and competencies. York Region skills events are specifically designed for Grades 4-12 students to participate in a variety of competitions (i.e. robotics; hairstyling; construction; 2D/3D animations; design etc.) and demonstrate their knowledge and skills in technological education, digital literacy, problem solving, mathematical and critical thinking skills.  The competitions continue to grow as school interest and participation are at an all-time high.
  • Skills Ontario/Canada Competitions: Schools participate in a variety of experiential learning opportunities, competition, and workshops available through Skills Ontario. Classroom teachers can also access Skilled Trades Presentations for Elementary (Grades 7-8) and Secondary schools. Schools participate in a variety of experiential learning opportunities, competitions, workshops (i.e. FNMI apprenticeship presentation), and networking opportunities. Skilled Trades Presentations to Elementary(Grades 7-8) and Secondary schools include cardboard boat races in elementary and secondary schools, Young Women’s conferences at a Skills Ontario event in May, FNMI Workshop and conference at Skills Ontario Event in May, and Skills Ontario competitions for elementary and secondary students.
  • Funding Pathways Initiatives: Elementary and secondary schools may apply for  funding to support Pathways student opportunities such as reach-ahead opportunities to post-secondary institutions with a focus on the skilled trades and technologies; participation in trades-related conferences/workshops; trades-related certification or training; and guest speakers promoting the skilled trades and technologies.   
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics): Students have equitable and inclusive learning opportunities to engage in authentic problem solving within a solution-making framework through school/community partnerships by engaging with STEM subjects. Teachers have the opportunity to explore the integration of challenge-based cross-curricular tasks and explore the integration of the engineering design process. The Promoting Skilled Trades and Technology (PSTT) Hand Tool Kits program has been scaled out to the system, engaging 10 secondary schools and a number of elementary schools in a 3D Printer Project, supporting the integration of robotics and coding into the Grades 6 and 9 science program using Let’s Talk Science Living Conditions program and hosting a Women in STEM and Trades Discovery event.


Transitioning From Elementary to Secondary and From Secondary to Initial Post-Secondary Destination

Elementary to Secondary:

  • ​Funding for schools to support ‘Take our Kids to High School’ day 
  • Funding to support transitions meetings between elementary and secondary teachers
  • Providing information and resources through email and web resources to Elementary Transitions/Guidance Teachers to support Grade 8 students as they plan for their transition to secondary and beyond
  • Maintaining Google + Community to support communication and collaboration among the Elementary Transitions/Guidance Teachers
  • Grade 8 Open Houses and Information Nights for families
  • PSTT - Promoting Skilled Trades & Technologies for Grades 7 and 8 professional learning series for teachers
  • Pathways to Mentorship: a School College Work Initiative (SCWI) activity where secondary school students have the opportunity to participate in hands on activities at Georgian College related to the trades.


Secondary to Post-Secondary:

  • ​Post-secondary fairs at various secondary schools
  • Career fairs at various secondary schools
  • Ontario College Application Service vouchers for students in financial need
  • Fast Track Student Conference for students going directly to the workplace
  • Senior Cohort Funding - funds support at-risk senior students with opportunities to recover credits and engage in pathways activities (i.e. field trips to colleges to view programs)
  • Career Pathways Expo co-hosted with Newmarket Chamber of Commerce
  • Indigenous Student Conference  - transitioning to post-secondary destinations
  • Funding Pathways Initiative - supporting schools with funding to create opportunities for students to engage in reach-aheads and experiential learning at post-secondary institutions (including apprenticeships)
  • Certifications through SHSM: industry sector-recognized certifications to support students in their career pathway choice
  • SHSM Reach-Aheads: visits to industry and post-secondary destinations that are career-pathway specific to support students in their transition planning to their post-secondary education or workplace (including apprenticeship)
  • “Career Pathways Expo” - 2nd annual event in partnership with the Newmarket Chamber of Commerce 
  • Accelerated OYAP Level 1 dual credit course opportunities in various trade areas 
  • Annual Fast Track Student Conference to support the successful transition from secondary school to apprenticeship/workplace
  • Apprenticeship “Registered Training Agreement” group signing events (three times per year) for Grade 12 OYAP students entering a formal agreement with their co-op placement 
  • Women in Trades:  promotion of the trades to girls within schools and the greater community, including events in which girls have an opportunity to learn about these trades


Experiential Learning 

Experiential learning lets students learn and gain experience beyond the classroom. It connects them with communities outside of school (local, national, or global) and allows them to participate in a learning experience connected to a community; supports reflection on the experience in order to derive meaning from it; and provides students with the ability to apply their learning to decision making in other aspects of their life.  

Through experiential learning, students can:

  • ​make connections to their career interests
  • participate in hands-on learning
  • gain valuable learning and experience that they can apply in different aspects of their life



The Student Success initiative continues to focus on the implementation of effective transition practices that support students as they move from elementary to secondary school and from secondary to post-secondary. 


​December 2019