The Challenge

What is the Student Pathways Challenge?

With a wide range of pathways available, high school students are struggling to find the information they need to choose and navigate their post-secondary education and career options.

From our conversations with youth, we know that labour market information is rarely, if ever, consulted when a student is trying to decide what to do after high school. We also know that other factors can heavily influence and potentially limit students’ awareness of the various education, training and employment opportunities available.

Students have also expressed concerns about how the decisions they make now will impact their future, making it even more vital to equip students with information to build confidence in their choices and set them on a course to success.

This has led to the development of the following challenge:

How might we help high school students gain a better understanding of available career opportunities and the pathways to get there by means of a digital tool?

What do you mean by pathways?

Pathways is a term that describes a student’s journey as they complete high school and choose one of the many post-secondary opportunities available to them – such as college, apprenticeship, university, vocational training or entrepreneurship – each potentially leading to careers that best fit their individual needs and aptitudes.

Why participate?

While always a critical driver of the economy, technological trends are reshaping Ontario’s workforce like never before. With major technological shifts, today’s youth will face higher skill and experience requirements than previous generations, and must therefore come equipped with a broader suite of technical and interpersonal skills to succeed.

By joining this Challenge, you will develop digital tools to help high school students navigate these new workforce realities by leveraging labour market and other information to better inform their decision making and address their individual needs. Teams with the most promising solutions will enjoy prizes from a pool of $50,000!

Who is eligible to participate in the challenge?

This challenge is open to all individuals (or groups of individuals) who meet the following criteria:

  • Is a legal resident of Canada (except for Quebec)
  • Is 16 years of age or older
  • At least one team member must be a resident of Ontario as defined by Elections Canada
  • At least one team member must be able to travel to Toronto to participate in the pitch competition on January 12, 2018

Do I need to be a high school student to participate?

No! Anyone who meets the above criteria is eligible for the Student Pathways Challenge.

Who is ineligible to participate?

Unfortunately, full time employees of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, as well as Ryerson University are ineligible to participate in the Student Pathways Challenge.

Are international students eligible to participate?

Yes, provided that they are legally eligible to be studying in Canada and that they are residing in Canada (except Quebec) during the challenge. International students can not participate from their home country.

Can an individual who has an already-licensed product (i.e. the product is theirs, they own the IP, it is already licensed) incorporate that product into the design of a broader digital tool that they will submit as part of a team?

Licensed products may be used, provided the product and IP is owned by one of the team members. However, it is the responsibility of the team to ensure there are no restrictions associated with their licensing agreement. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the team to sort out who owns the IP regarding any improvements. Student Pathways Challenge, Brookfield Institute and the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development will not be involved in the IP disputes of any team. We recommend seeking legal advice on protecting your IP.

Will the Challenge cover travel expenses for the Pitch Competition?

Yes. Teams that qualify for the Top 10 will be notified on or around December 15th 2017 that they have been successful in moving through to the Pitch Competition. Teams will be reimbursed up to $1,200 for their travel expenses to participate in the Pitch Competition in downtown Toronto on January 12, 2018. Teams must book travel in accordance with Management Board of Cabinet Travel, Meal and Hospitality Expenses Directive. For more information see our Rules and Regulations.

When does the Challenge open and close? What are the key dates I should be aware of?

The Challenge will open Thursday, October 19, 2017, and will close by 11:59pm on Thursday, November 30, 2017. Check out the Challenge Timeline  for all key dates.

I am not from a tech background/I have never built an app before. Can I still participate?

Absolutely! Participants from all backgrounds can join this competition. We are looking for a product that would be feasible to build, so we encourage you to find teammates that could help turn your ideas and insights into a working digital tool.

How do I find teammates?

The Student Pathways Challenge Slack workspace  is a great resource to help you find participants looking for teammates, so be sure to check there. You can also find teammates through your community, school or using our Student Pathway Challenge hashtag #studentpathways on your preferred social media platform, so long as you review the team requirements.

What are the team requirements?

  • Teams must be a minimum of one (1) participant and a maximum of twelve (12).
  • All teammates must be legal residents of Canada (except for Quebec)
  • All teammates must be at least 16 years of age.
  • At least one team member must be a resident of Ontario as defined by Elections Canada

What data, tools and resources can I use?

As part of this Challenge, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development has released a large number of data sets for you to use, analyze and build upon. In addition to this, we have also provided a toolkit that summarizes user insights and provides a basis for you to conduct your own user research and testing. We encourage participants to use any open data they feel is relevant and/or helpful in the creation of their digital tool, as long as it is obtained legally.

Are there any additional resources I should be aware of?

We have compiled a list of optional resources for you to use as you design your solution. Check out our Tools + Resources to learn more.

Judging Process

What do I have to build?

We are looking for submissions that are either a working prototype or a proof-of-principle. Both submission types must also include a project overview and rationale. For more information, please check out our rules and regulations and judging scorecard.  

Working prototypes can be developed anywhere, but final submissions must be deployed on our private server and linked in our submission form. If you would like further guidance on the submission process, please see our submissions page and don’t hesitate to get in touch with any further questions.  

What is the Judging Process?

The Student Pathways Challenge will follow a two-phased judging process:

  • Phase 1 will be judged by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development and Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University
  • Phase 2 will be judged by an external judging committee. Stay tuned for updates on our rock-star panel of judges.

Both phases will occur after the competition closes on November 30.

How are ideas judged and evaluated? 

The Rules and Regulations outline the judging process as well as the judging criteria. It is a good idea to review this document while building your solution. You can also review the judging scorecard which will be the primary tool judges use to evaluate submissions.

Who are the judges?

We are building a panel of external judges from diverse backgrounds and regions across Ontario. We will use the expertise of data analysts, representatives from the tech and digital community and, of course, a high school student! We will announce the full panel of judges in mid-October. Stay tuned for more details!  

What do Challenge winners receive?

The Student Pathways Challenge will award a total of $50,000 in prize money. First prize will win $30,000 ; second prize will win $13,000 and third prize will win $7,000.


What is Slack?

Slack is a free messaging and chat platform that helps teams connect and collaborate in real time. We have set up a Slack workspace specifically for this challenge. Slack is a great tool to chat with other participants, find teammates and troubleshoot questions.

How to register

To gain access to our Slack workspace, you will need to register for our mailing list. We will send an invite shortly after registration. Slack is free to use and we have compiled some tips and guidelines (below) to help you get started.

If you have any other questions about Slack or need help joining the workspace please feel free to get in touch

Are there any guiding principles or social rules for using the Slack workspace?

It is important that participants feel safe communicating over Slack. By encouraging all participants to follow these guiding principles, we hope to foster a safe and collaborative environment for participants to connect, find teammates, create channels, and ask questions as they work towards building their solution.

The Student Pathways Challenge team is dedicated to providing a harassment-free environment for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion, or technical skill level. We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form.

While using Slack, please remember that:

  • This workspace has been created to ensure a welcoming and constructive environment for participants to ask questions and connect.
  • We do not tolerate rude or hostile comments.
  • Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate at any time.
  • You should try to actively listen to the discussions or questions being asked and be wary not to dominate a conversation.

We reserve the right to expel a participant (and their team) from the Student Pathways Challenge at any time if we feel a participant is in violation of these guiding principles.

By registering for the Student Pathways Challenge and/or our Slack workspace, you agree to the preceding guiding principles. For full rules, please see our Rules and Regulations.

It’s my first time using Slack. Where can I find resources on how to best set up and use Slack?

Slack has some amazing resources for new users just getting started. We encourage you to start with their Getting Started for New Members guide..

For more in-depth Slack support, resources also include:

If there is anything we have missed or you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us through our Slack workspace or via email!

Have a question?

If you have a question that isn't answered on this page, please contact us.