This article examines the initiative called Aspire which seeks to give every secondary school student a work-related experience and to develop a closer and smoother relationship between the school and the workplace.

Getting Started

Appropriate Subject Area(s):

Careers, co-operative education, business studies

Key Questions to Explore:

  • How does Aspire differ from co-operative education?
  • How will this initiative aid in a student’s education?
  • How will this help youth underemployment?

New Terminology:


Materials Needed:

Copies of the article for the students

Study and Discussion Activity

Introduction to lesson and task:

Co-operative education when it was first implemented had, as one of its primary objectives, giving high school students exposure to work-experience situations. It was hoped that students would then have first-hand knowledge of what the working world expected of them. The learning would, therefore, help students have a realistic expectation of what would be required of them and how their formal in-school education would be of value. Needless to say, the nature of the working world is changing with flex hours, the ability to work off-site and indeed employment terms and conditions altering the nature of the employment. These changes are only the beginning of new tendencies and practices. Graduates entering the workforce today must be prepared for the ever-changing world they will experience and so there are new ideas to help in this transition and better prepare the students for these developments. The program Aspire is one such idea. This lesson will expose the students to this plan and have them reflect upon its merits and to decide if they would welcome this opportunity.

Action (lesson plan and task):

  • Ask the students if they have experienced a co-operative education experience or are considering one.
  • Ask those who have been involved or are considering such a course of action to highlight the positives associated with it.
  • Ask them to explain whether or not they believe that all students should be exposed to some form of work-related experience during their high school education.
  • Explain to them that the nature of the job experience and working world is shifting quickly and that there is a belief that all students would benefit from a work-related experience.
  • Provide the students with a copy of the article and allow them time to read it.
  • Without discussing the article, ask the students to take some time to consider the Aspire program and ask them to record whether or not they see value in such a suggestion.

Consolidation of Learning:

  • Once they have recorded their ideas pair each student with another and have the pairs discuss their ideas to see where there are similarities and differences in responses.
Success and Additional Learning

Success Criteria:

The students will be able to:

  1. Identify some of the benefits of a work-related experience
  2. Explain the Aspire program
  3. Offer an informed opinion as to the value of such a program.

Confirming Activity:

  • Have the pairs report their findings to the class and then hold a plenary session during which the students can discuss how they see the world of work changing and what they see as the implications for them.