The front-page article, "Graduating high school job-ready" in the Sept. 29 Chatham Daily News highlights the action the McGuinty government is taking to improve education here and across the province.

As a result of a specific new provincial policy, more area students will get a career edge with the expansion of the Specialist High Skills Major program at local schools.

We are helping more local students succeed by giving them work experience in their community and opportunities to test drive their career interests while in school.

This specialized secondary school program helps students earn credits towards their high school diploma, gain sector certifications and focus on future careers through hands-on learning opportunities and workplace experiences.

I am thrilled that we are providing more hands-on learning opportunities for our high school students, at John McGregor, Chatham-Kent SS and Ridgetown District High School. Our SHSM program is one of the initiatives that have helped more than 52,500 additional students graduate since 2004.

This year, there are over 1,000 SHSM programs in more than 530 secondary schools across Ontario -an increase of 260 programs and 100 schools over last year. There are about 28,000 students enrolled in the program across Ontario -an increase of 8,000 students over last year.

The McGuinty government's new Student Success programs have helped raise Ontario's graduation rate from 68 to 79 per cent in five years. That's positive progress.

Pat Hoy MPP Chatham-Kent-Essex

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