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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Student learns nuts and bolts of his trade

By Aunie Edwards
Special to The Toronto Sun

No one can see what the future holds. But when education, business and a smart government program pursue the common goal of improving the career odds for a young student, uncertainty fades and a good future becomes visible.

Such is the case for Mike Frost, a senior at Bendale Business and Technical Institute and the beneficiary of a teacher's expertise, a big business' community spirit and a government program's career solutions.
OYAP student Mike Frost, left, with Will Frost (no relation), his supervisor at Mattamy Homes. Mike and 15 of his peers are building a house from the ground up.

Funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program provides students with the opportunity to apprentice in a skilled trade, gain high school credits and accumulate skills and hours that can be applied to a college level apprenticeship.

OYAP's approach is designed to explore career options and open a network of valuable resources through the participation of community businesses. One such business is Mattamy Homes. Under its sponsorship, Frost and 15 of his peers are building a house from the ground up. The project is lead by Will Kramer, a licensed carpenter and co-op educator at Bendale B.T.I.

"Mattamy Homes' participation is an example of great community spirit, but it's also smart business," Kramer says. "We're facing a significant shortage of skilled workers, and this is an excellent way to interest people in the field and to train them properly."

Frost has distinguished himself as a valuable asset on the project. "Mike has been on the job site from the beginning -- framing, installing windows, working with other trades people -- the entire process.

Mattamy performs regular inspections, and Mike ends up with a qualified overview of the construction of a house while he gains high school credits.

It's a tremendous opportunity," Kramer says.
Mike Frost

For his part, Frost is fully aware of the head start he's getting. "Mr. Kramer has been very helpful and I really enjoy the work," Frost says. It is likely that his satisfaction with carpentry, combined with a strong work ethic, makes Frost a good employee. Regardless of the motivation, Kramer gives him top marks.

"Mike is always on time and always works hard. He's interested and he definitely has a talent for carpentry," Kramer says.

When the house is complete, Frost will officially graduate from high school. And although his plans from that point are not fully formed, Frost is aware of the opportunities presented by an OYAP affiliation.

"I haven't made definite plans about college yet. After high school, I will find more work in construction, specifically carpentry, and then I will make some decisions," Frost says.

Those decisions will include consideration of a college level apprenticeship with three eight-week courses, followed by a certification exam in the skilled trade of carpentry. This path will be carefully mapped out through OYAP and the courses will be funded through the ministry.

To make an informed decision on a perfectly attainable future is an enviable position for anyone, but it is all the more impressive for a teenager poised to graduate high school. If Frost makes the choice to pursue certified carpentry, OYAP will be at his side with financial and strategic support.

Clearly, Mike Frost owns the advantage of a visible future.

(Aunie Edwards ( is a Guelph-based freelance writer.)

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