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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Student fulfills his electric dreams

By Aunie Edwards
Special to The Toronto Sun

If you gave a dad a crystal ball for Father's Day, the first thing he would want to see is a successful future for his children. In the absence of that crystal ball, the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) must be the next best thing.

Sponsored by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, OYAP shows high school students -- and their parents -- a future of personal satisfaction and financial security within a well-mapped and attainable framework.
This the program to get me where I'm going faster," says electrician apprentice John Paul Cipollone.

John Paul Cipollone is a senior student at St. Elizabeth Catholic High School, and the perfect example of what a solid future looks like. As a registered member of OYAP, Cipollone is fulfilling multiple goals and securing a considerable head start toward his skilled career.

"While John Paul apprentices as an electrician, he is also gaining enough high school credits to graduate this month," says Paola Presutto, co-op teacher at St. Elizabeth CHS. "He will have accumulated about 500 hours toward his apprenticeship, and his college courses will be government subsidized."

To facilitate Cipollone's mandate, he needed a business willing to sign him as an apprentice and train him in a safe environment. To find the most compatible student-employer matches and ensure successful placements, co-op educators normally follow a rigorous interview process.

"For John Paul, the choice was simple -- he's apprenticing with his father's company, called Con-Cor Electrical Contracting," Presutto says. "He's been exposed to the business all his life and has worked for his father before. He's very familiar with the skill and he already knows he enjoys the work. He and his dad won't have any surprises."

The only unknown was the OYAP initiative itself. "We've taken apprentices before, but this is the first time we've done it through OYAP," says Peter Cipollone, owner of Con-Cor Electric. "I became involved for my son, but I'm impressed -- the ministry and school lay out an agenda that keeps the kids on the straight and narrow. They graduate high school with a plan, some experience and substantial apprenticing hours. That's way ahead of the game."

For the son, a typical day is a full day. In conjunction with his work placement and job site evaluations, John Paul attends scheduled classes to discuss his weekly journal, his progress and his apprenticing goals.

The progress has been excellent but for John Paul, it is never enough. "I'm really enjoying the work and I'm learning every day, but I'd always like to do more," John Paul says.

"I'm pleased that John Paul is motivated -- he wants to work and he wants to learn and that's half the battle," Peter says. "But safety has to be my primary concern -- even though he knows what he's doing, he can't do it all yet."

The electrician apprenticeship requires 9,000 hours of skilled work and will take four or five years, with three blocks of college courses to complete, but Cipollone shows no hesitation.

"I've always known that this is what I want -- with OYAP, I realized I could start accumulating apprentice hours right away instead of waiting until after high school. This is the program to get me where I'm going faster."

John Paul Cipollone can see a solid future filled with personal and financial success. And with the OYAP initiative, his father has a front-row view. It's not a crystal ball, but it must be the next best thing.

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

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