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Schoolyard exploitation?

<strong>Q</strong> Hello, Jill. I am a teacher at a private school, where I’ve been teaching for almost four years.&nbsp;

Q Hello, Jill. I am a teacher at a private school, where I’ve been teaching for almost four years. I want to register for the BEd degree. One of the requirements is to have a letter from the employer to prove teaching experience. I asked my employer and she refused. I asked her to give me a copy of my teacher’s evaluations she refused, too. I’ve been reading your column for a long time and I know that you worked as a teacher. As I am working without a contract, too, I have no idea of what to do in order to protect my rights and get the reference letter or at least the teacher’s evaluations. What do I do? –Racha Raad

A Racha, I’m sorry to hear of this stressful situation. Since you haven’t told me otherwise, I’m going to assume that your teaching history would warrant these reference letters without question. If you’ve no explanation as to why your employer is refusing to provide these then you’ve definitely got a case. Another thing that concerns me is the fact that you are working without any contract (not even an expired one to at least illustrate that there was one in the first place?). This always puts an employee, regardless of the field, in a vulnerable situation and is the usual welcome mat necessary for many employers to exploit their employees or discard them without much warning. Ask your employer why she won’t help you for the last time, then, if you’re not satisfied with her reasoning, let her know you’re taking this further. Please contact the Ontario Secondary School Teacher’s Federation www.osstf.on.ca. If they can’t help you I’m sure they will be able to direct you accordingly. The OSSTF/FEESO also represents the rights of private school educators. Another useful contact would be the Ontario Federation of Independent Schools www.ofis.ca. Best hopes to you!

Q Hi, Jill. I will be graduating from the aerospace engineering program at Ryerson University this year. I have applied to a number of places but haven’t heard back yet. I was wondering if you can direct me to any websites or offices where I can search for more jobs. –Saima Saleem

A Congratulations Saima! What you might want to do in conjunction with applying for jobs is to start expanding your professional network. The best way to do that is to research some industry organizations that you can join. As most of these organizations have membership fees, you want to be sure that they’ve got a real interest in assisting recent graduates. How can you know that? By checking out if they’ve got any mentorship, internship or volunteering opportunities available to their recent grad members and by speaking to other new members. Also, I can’t stress enough how important it is to inform family, friends and most importantly Ryerson engineering student associations, former professors and alumni of your job interests. Maintain those links with Ryerson for more than just reference letters. Many profs still have strong networks in the market place and could connect you to the goods if you only ask. Here are a few leads you could check out:

  • Professional Engineers Ontario: peo.on.ca
  • Aerospace Industries Association of Canada: aiac.ca
  • Association of Canadian Engineering Companies: acec.ca

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