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Experiential learning elevates Toronto Pearson’s “Take Our Kids to Work Day” Program

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), operator of Toronto Pearson International Airport, is proud to support The Learning Partnership’s “Take Our Kids to Work Day” program, encouraging our employees and their families to participate for the last four years. Through this unique program we aim to bring a “day in the life” experience to students with a behind-the-scenes look at Canada’s largest airport. Our goal in participating is to foster a sense of appreciation of the many varied careers available and necessary to keeping our 24/7 operation running safely and efficiently amongst students. We also hope to share with them the sense of pride their parents feel as part of the Toronto Pearson team. The rewards for participating in this program reach beyond providing students with a positive introduction to the working world; for our employees and our airport partners. The day provides a source of inspiration and encourages team building, productivity, social interactions and employee involvement.

Toronto Pearson is Canada’s largest airport and the second-busiest North American international airport, employing over 49,000 people and contributing 6.3% to Ontario's GDP. The airport facilitates approximately 332,000 jobs in Ontario, and by 2030, it is estimated that this number will grow to 542,000 jobs in the province. The area around Toronto Pearson is the second-largest employment zone in Canada outside of the Toronto downtown core and as a major economic driver and job creator, we recognize the positive difference we can make in the lives of our community by investing in local initiatives such as The Learning Partnership’s “Take Our Kids to Work Day.”

Since learning about the initiative in 2014, Toronto Pearson has evolved their approach to provide students with more interactive activities; for example, we not only showed them how we test and filter in our stormwater facility for glycol runoff from our deicing operations, but allowed them to use the equipment and test the water provided for themselves. This type of experiential learning keeps students engaged throughout the day and provides them with a memorable learning experience.  

This year’s “Take Our Kids to Work Day” began with a presentation from our recruitment team to a group of 60 students, introducing the variety of roles at the airport, responsibilities and accountabilities.
After the presentation, students experienced what Toronto Pearson has to offer by way of rotating through a variety of exhibitor booths highlighting the role each department plays and how they support Toronto Pearson. Some of these booths included subject matter experts from our Safety and Security team who spoke about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safety importance at the airport as well as A.S.P., who introduced their canines to students. Members of our Environment and Noise Management teams were also on hand with interactive activities that demonstrated the work they do to help the airport grow responsibly and be a good neighbour to our surrounding communities. The students had a chance to visit our world class Fire and Emergency Services Training Institute and experience the role of a firefighter. They also visited our “Bird Shack” to see and learn about the role wildlife management plays in the safe operation of our airport.
We worked with some of our airport partners to organize a new terminal tour component for students to provide them with a better look at what the airport offers career-wise. The tour included presentations and activities from some of our airport partners, including the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), US Customs & Border Protection (USCBP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

We are more than just pilots and flight attendants and we are excited to show the students the world of opportunity Toronto Pearson affords.

At the end of the day, there are so many career opportunities here in the Toronto Pearson airport community, and we want to open students’ eyes to that and inspire them. It’s just a matter of time before these students are our future operations managers, terminal service representatives, chefs, security officers, and executives.
The feedback we received demonstrated the impact the day had on the students, our employees, and our airport community:
“As the mother of a 14-year old boy who’s not particularly chatty, I was pleasantly surprised at how much my son wanted to talk to me about his day,” said Lorrie McKee.  “I got home late, he was still awake, and we talked for 30 minutes about his day. That’s almost unheard of! He participated in the afternoon at the Terminals and thought it was super cool to see officers from CBSA and USCBP. He talked about the demonstrations, and the chance to see the hold rooms and play with the screening equipment. Thanks for such a great experience.”
“It was a great opportunity to meet with such a highly engaged and inquisitive group of young people,” said Todd Browne, one of the exhibitors during the day. “I think they were truly excited to immerse themselves in the culture of Toronto Pearson. Hopefully some of these young people will follow in their parent’s footsteps and join our team.”
“We really enjoyed showing the Grade 9 students some of the exciting career options at Toronto Pearson and in the aviation industry,” said Maria Puster and Greg Owen, GTAA. “With the Terminal tour we gave the students an insight to the various jobs available here, including border protection, safety and security, the Operations Control Centre, and customer service. It was fun to see them take it all in.”
Take Our Kids to Work Day is an annual event where students step into their future for a day and get a glimpse into the working world. The day involves students in Grade 9, Senior 1 (Manitoba) and Secondary III (Québec) spending the day in the workplace of a parent, relative, friend or volunteer host, where they experience and learn about the world of work. In 2019, Take Our Kids to Work Day is on Wednesday, November 6th.