More than half of Toronto’s public high schools offer courses in Spanish, so what can students do with their newly-acquired language skills once they are in the workforce?
To answer this question, a team of dedicated teachers from the TDSB created the first annual Carrusel de carreras, or Spanish Career Fair, open to all students of Spanish, along with those of Spanish-speaking heritage.
The end result: more than two hundred students from a dozen schools visited Bathurst Heights SS on January 9 to meet representatives from twenty companies and community groups, all of whom are involved in recruiting Spanish speakers for multiple future opportunities.
“With thousands of Toronto students learning Spanish as a second language, it is important for our young people to recognize the career opportunities that come from being able to communicate in this language,” said Jimmy Steele, a Spanish, German and French teacher at Georges Vanier SS in North York. “Our students are acquiring useful skills that they can use in many facets of their life, most certainly including the workforce.”
Carrie McLaren, a Spanish teacher at Sir Oliver Mowat CI in Scarborough, is also on the organizing committee. “With dozens of emerging economies in nations where Spanish is the lingua franca, the need for young Canadians to speak Spanish continues to grow,” she said.
In addition, students of Hispanic heritage are one of the groups most susceptible to dropping out of school. Nearly four out of ten Hispanic students in the TDSB do not meet graduation requirements. “This career fair is an excellent chance to also promote the practical use of the language among our Spanish-speaking students,” added organizer Silvia Blejman Kantor of William Lyon Mackenzie CI, who is of Argentinean heritage and teaches in her school’s Intervention program. “Being a Spanish speaker is a huge career asset in Toronto, and certainly across our country and throughout the world.”
Several community groups, companies and other cultural organizations were present at the event. The committee hopes to make the career fair an annual event, eventually expanding the focus to include other core languages offered in TDSB schools, including German, Portuguese, Mandarin and Japanese.