March 2013 Archives

Guide to vocational schooling


The Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy


Feature Article: The Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy  

Modern Beauty Academies

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Most people do not take beauty seriously when it comes to careers. When thinking of beauty school many people will still conjure an image of Grease's "Beauty School Drop Out" song in their minds. This image needs to be reinvented because today's beauty schools provide the training for women and men alike to create a successful and respectable career. With vocational training becoming a popular choice for students here in Quebec, many people are looking at beauty academies in a new light. When looking into beauty academies (or any vocational training school for that matter) it is well worth considering a public school because public vocational training is completely free for residents of Quebec.

 The Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy

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One of the best public beauty academies in Montreal is the Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy. The Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy is located in the West Island of Montreal in Beaconsfield and their programs provide training for all aspects of the beauty field. The Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy was built in 1994 and was the first school of its kind located on the West Island of Montreal. The school is part of the Lester B. Pearson School Board and is named after Gordon Robertson who was a friend of the school board and a strong supporter of vocational training programs. The programs offered include:

-Become an Aesthetics Professional

-Become a Hair Care Professional

-Become a Professional Electrologist

-Become a Body Care Professional

-Become an Entrepreneur in the Beauty Industry

On the Gordon Robertson website they provide 5 questions to ask yourself if you are thinking of joining their beauty academy:

1)      Do you want a career in the beauty industry?

2)      Do you want a career that is in high demand?

3)      Are you a hands-on person?

4)      Do you want to own your own business?

5)      Do you want a fresh start in less than a year?

If you answered yes to most, or all of these questions, then The Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy is probably a good place for you to be.  All of the courses are offered solely on a part-time basis except for the aesthetics and hair care courses which can be taken full-time or part-time full time for 12 or 24 months respectively. Gordon Robertson is an English school, so all of the courses are offered in English only.


Gordon Robertson Beauty Academy

240 Beaurepaire Drive

Beaconsfield, QC

H9W 6G4


 Interview with a Gordon Robertson Graduate

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(Photo of Amanda and I at the Interview: Amanda is on the right)

Amanda Carrier is a graduate of the aesthetics course at Gordon Robertson, and she offered to share some of her experience with me. We decide to meet for drinks so that I can ask her questions about the program that she completed.

Amanda is a 23 year old with a lot of drive and determination. She completed her aesthetics course a couple of years ago and is now halfway through the highly competitive professional photography program at Dawson College. She loves fashion and hopes to become a fashion photographer one day. She is brimming with creativity and it is no wonder that she loves to make things beautiful. She is a small girl with bright red hair, and very fair, porcelain-like skin. Her love of fashion and makeup can be seen right away through her stylish and fashion forward appearance. She carries herself very confidently. We order martinis and sit down at a table to proceed with the interview.

Stephanie: So, what course did you take at Gordon Robertson?

Amanda: I took the Aesthetics course.

S: What did the course cover exactly?

A: It covered makeup, waxing, facial treatments, body treatments, and a little bit of business and customer service skills.

S: How long was the course? When did it start and finish?

A: The course started at the end of August and went until mid-June. Just like high school or elementary school.

S: How did you find the teachers? Helpful?

A: The teachers were really nice and very passionate about what they taught. I was very impressed by them.

S: What kind of form did the course take? Was it mostly hands-on?

A: When we first started it was mostly theory, for about a month. Then at the end of the course we had to learn a little bit about business which was also mostly theory, but everything else in between was completely hands-on practice.

S: Who did you practice on?

A: For a month we practiced our skills on each other. Then we were allowed to bring people in to practice on, like friends and family members. Then we started getting real clients.

S: Yeah, I read about that on the website, apparently people can make appointments and receive spa quality treatments from the students for reduced prices? Is that right? Are those the clients that you're talking about?

A: Yes. It was mostly older women who came in. They were always really nice and patient with us. Every week one person would be manager. Basically you greeted the clients and assigned them to a student. We always had to tell the teacher what our facial treatment plan/makeup plan was before we started. The teacher would double check and ok our plan. We did facials, back facials (a facial for your back), makeup, waxing, manicures, and pedicures.

S: What did you spend the most time learning?

A: We spent the most time on facials. There was a lot to learn about skin types, skin condition, skin diseases, so on.

S: Did you have to complete a stage to graduate?

A: Yes we had to do a stage at the end of May. We had to work at a spa, for free, to see what the job was like.

S: What would you say the best and worst parts of the course were?

A: The best parts were the teachers, and learning about makeup. I love makeup so that was my favourite. We got so many makeup items that we were allowed to keep. Big palettes of all different colors, makeup brushes, almost everything that we would need for our kits. The worst part for me had to be the girls in my class. They were so lazy and never wanted to do anything, especially with the clients that came in. They would ask dumb questions in class, like why does the skin have three layers? There is no answer! It just does! I was taking the course very seriously. It is a career program! It seemed like the other girls weren't though. That's the only negative thing I can say though. Everything about the school itself was great.

S: Thanks for all the information! I'm sure it will help someone out to read about your experience!

A: You're welcome!


Montreal is a great place to pursue vocational training programs. There are many vocational schools on the island where students can learn a variety of skilled trades. Successful and stimulating careers can be pursued through vocational training programs. Students can study cosmetology, hairdressing, plumbing, computer servicing, restaurant and hotel management, culinary work and more. Vocational training programs are a good choice for anyone who is ready to work hands-on.

Here in Quebec, vocational training programs are designed in collaboration with employers and are suited to regional economic activities. They also reflect the needs of the current labor market. This means that graduates usually have no trouble finding a job in their field, and most programs will even set students up with internships that can turn into full-time jobs after graduation. In fact in Quebec 75% of vocational school graduates find full-time work within a year, as there is currently a huge demand for skilled workers. Another amazing thing about pursuing vocational training in Quebec is that through public schools it is completely free for Quebec residents! This helps to encourage more people to study skilled trades.

There are many great vocational training schools that offer their courses in French, and there are also many private vocational training schools in Montreal, but this review will examine the top five English-language, public vocational training schools in Montreal. Let's get started!

5) Pearson Electrotechnology Centre (PEC):

5000 René-Huguet

Lachine, Quebec

H8T 1M7


This school belongs to the Lester B. Pearson School Board, and it is the only English public school of its kind in all of Quebec. It has been open since 2007 and the programs offered include: Electricity, Installation and Repair of Telecommunications Equipment and Computing Support Courses. Sometime in the near future the school will also be offering a Heating and Plumbing program.

Classes for all three programs are offered either during the day from 8:00 to 3:00, or in the evenings from 3:30-10:30. The school features state of the art equipment and all training involves hands-on experience with the highest safety standards. The school partners closely with many businesses including Videotron, Belden, Commission de la construction du Quebec and more. Students are offered many training opportunities through the school's various connections.

4) West Island Career Centre (W.I.C.C):

13700 Pierrefonds Blvd.

Pierrefonds, QC

H9A 1A7


The West Island Career Centre belongs to the Lester B. Pearson School Board and offers training for a wide variety of skilled trades. They cover the fields of healthcare, automobile mechanics, interior decorating and visual display, residential and commercial drafting, and accounting and administration. The specific programs include: Accounting, Administrative Professional, Assistance in Healthcare Facilities, Automobile Mechanics, General building Maintenance, Health, Assistance and Nursing Care, Home Care Assistance, Hygiene and Sanitation in Health Care Settings, Interior Decorating and Visual Display, Medical Office Specialist, Medical Secretary, Residential and Commercial Drafting, and Starting a Business.

This school offers a "Student for a Day" program which pairs up potential students with current students. They are able to spend the day at the school, attending real classes before they decide if it is the right school and/or program for them.

3) PACC Vocational Centre (Pearson Adult and Career Centre):

8310 George Street

LaSalle, QC

H8P 1E5


The PACC Vocational Centre belongs to the Lester B. Pearson School Board. The school offers vocational programs in the fields of food services and tourism, administration, and health. The programs include: Retail Butchery, Food & Beverage Services, Professional Cooking, Pastry Making, Accounting Studies, Administrative Professional , Pharmacy Technical Assistance, Home Care Assistance, Health, Assistance and Nursing Care, Dental Assistance, Assistance in HealthCare Facilities. There is a great variety of programs available to students.

An interesting note is that PACC offers their students an amazing resource free of charge, the online use of the language learning software, Rosetta Stone!

2) Shadd Business Centre:

1000 Old Orchard

Montreal, QC

H4A 3A4

(514) 484-0485

[email protected]

The Shadd Business Centre is part of the English Montreal School Board. The school has been around for over 15 years and their reputation is highly respected. The Shadd Business Centre boasts an impressive job placement rate for qualified graduates. The programs that they offer include: Accounting, Assistance in Healthcare, Pharmacy Technical Assistance, Secretarial Studies, and Starting a Business.

All programs are full-time, but students have the option to sign up for daytime or evening classes. The Shadd Business Centre is very aware that many students are going to be balancing full-time jobs with school, and their flexible scheduling options reflect that.

1) Rosemount Technology Centre (RTC):

3737 Beaubien Ave

Montreal, QC

H1X 1H2


The Rosemount Technology Centre is one of the largest English-language technical career training centres in all of Quebec. It belongs to the English Montreal School Board. The school offers amazing programs that are hands-on, and all of the featured trades are very in demand in Quebec. Programs include: Automated Systems in Electromechanics, Cabinet Making, Computer Graphics Techniques, Furniture Finishing, Industrial Drafting (CAD), Industrial Machine Operator, Machining Techniques, Numerical-Control Machine Tool Operation (CNC), and Printing and Digital Layout.

The school employs a work-study assignment within all of their programs which allows students to use their newly learned skills in real working environments. This often leads to job opportunities in the future.




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