TRAIN­ING: Stu­dents get hands on ex­pe­ri­ence and go be­yond the class­room with pro­gram

Pro­vid­ing a bridge to ad­dress a short­age of skilled work­ers Elmira District Sec­ondary School’s co-op­er­a­tive ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram and ap­pren­tice­ship track pro­vides youth with hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence in con­juc­tion with class­room time

The Woolwich Observer - - VEN­TURE - FAISAL ALI

OB­SERVERS HAVE LONG

WARNED of a skilled­labour short­age in Canada amongst young work­ers, as the younger gen­er­a­tions opt for uni­ver­sity-level ed­u­ca­tion over col­lege. Bach­e­lor de­grees have be­come, in­creas­ingly, the new stan­dard in con­tem­po­rary ed­u­ca­tion for many, leav­ing the trades out in the cold.

Push­ing back on the trend, how­ever, are pro­grams like the On­tario Youth Ap­pren­tice­ship Pro­gram (OYAP), of­fered out of Elmira District Sec­ondary School (EDSS), which give lo­cal high school stu­dents an early op­por­tu­nity to train them­selves in high-de­mand tech­ni­cal fields.

“I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do, so this kind of gives you a lit­tle bit more ex­pe­ri­ence to nar­row down op­tions,” said Safaye Borut­skie, an EDSS stu­dent work­ing a place­ment in con­struc­tion. “You learn a lot more than you would just read­ing about it from a text­book.”

“I didn’t want to spend money on col­lege and then not want to do [the pro­gram]. So it’s a good op­por­tu­nity,” added Mar­ley Waring, who is as­sist­ing teach­ers at St. Ja­cobs Pub­lic School.

OYAP is of­fered for stu­dents 16-years and older in high schools through­out the prov­ince specif­i­cally for skilled trades. Stu­dents al­ter­nate be­tween work and in-class as­sign­ments, with the work-hours ac­cu­mu­lated go­ing to­wards a jour­ney­man des­ig­na­tion.

“The big thing was they had a short­age of skilled-trade work­ers, so they wanted a lit­tle bit of in­cen­tive and a push to get the idea out there that there are a lot of jobs to be had in the skilled trades,” ex­plains David Mun­roe, co-op co­or­di­na­tor for EDSS. “And you can make a de­cent liv­ing and good money and not ev­ery­body has to go col­lege and uni­ver­sity. They wanted to pro­mote those skilled trades in the work­force.”

The OYAP pro­gram is run in tan­dem with the school’s co-op place­ments, with an em­pha­sis on early train­ing in skilled trades.

“It ba­si­cally is a gov­ern­ment funded pro­gram where you sign them up for the OYAP pro­gram, and then they’re able to do some more jobs while they’re out work­ing in those skilled trades,” said Mun­roe. “And also, if they de­cide that they want to go into that field, they can use their co-op hours as part of their ap­pren­tice­ship hours af­ter they grad­u­ate.”

The in-class por­tions of the pro­gram in­clude lessons specif­i­cally on prag­matic skills in the job

mar­ket, in ad­di­tion to the usual course struc­ture for high school.

“They help you find a job and get set up with your re­sumes and ev­ery­thing like that. So for fu­ture jobs it will help a lot,” says Alex DeVore, who works con­struc­tion in be­tween class at EDSS.

“But on­site is the more help­ful part. You learn a lot more than you would just read­ing about it from a text­book,” noted Borut­skie.

The blend of aca­demics and hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant for em­ploy­ment, notes Mun­roe, while the stu­dents, too, find the pro­gram en­joy­able.

“Most of them love it. Most of them are pretty pas­sion­ate of that line of work and they end up do­ing that for a ca­reer, so they find it very ben­e­fi­cial. We’re even find­ing a lot of the em­ploy­ers say to peo­ple look­ing for jobs, that they want them to have co-op ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

Across Canada, an­nual earn­ing have jumped sub­stan­tially amongst skilled-trades work­ers, par­tic­u­larly for young men. In con­stant dol­lars, earn­ings for young men with ap­pren­tice­ships rose 14 per cent be­tween 2005 and 2015, com­pared with bach­e­lor’s hold­ers who only saw a six per cent in­crease over the same pe­riod.

Women, how­ever, did not see the same gains in in­comes over the pe­riod, and in fact tended to make less than women with high school ed­u­ca­tion as their high­est level qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

“Women were more likely than men to ap­pren­tice in lower-pay­ing trades. For ex­am­ple, al­most three in 10 women with an ap­pren­tice­ship cer­tifi­cate ap­pren­ticed in ‘hairstyling,’” notes a Sta­tis­tics Canada re­port, Does Ed­u­ca­tion Pay?, pub­lished in Novem­ber last year.

“In con­trast, women with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree as their high­est ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tion earned sig­nif­i­cantly more than women with col­lege or high school cre­den­tials.”

How­ever, the trend may change as more women break tra­di­tional gen­der bar­ri­ers and en­ter into higher paid and tech­ni­cal skilled trades, such as con­struc­tion and elec­tri­cal work.

The EDSS stu­dents, for their part, are over­whelm­ingly ap­prov­ing of the pro­gram, and said they would rec­om­mend it to oth­ers.

“For sure. You get cred­its to go work,” said Parker Winfield, work­ing in au­to­mo­tive.

“And you can get paid,” added Jesse Broughm, an­other stu­dent train­ing in the field.

“Some­times. In lucky sit­u­a­tions,” Waring chipped in.

[FAISAL ALI / THE OB­SERVER]

EDSS stu­dents are given an early op­por­tu­nity for on-the-job train­ing through the school’s co-op and ap­pren­tice­ship pro­grams. Pic­tured are Alex DeVore, Parker Winfield, Jesse Broughm, Safaye Borut­skie, Mar­ley Waring, who al­ter­nate be­tween their stud­ies at school, and their work place­ments over the term.

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