By Jack Kazmierski
Special to The Toronto Sun
If you're interested in working as a painter, or working with glass or metal, sooner or later you're likely going to need the services of the Ontario Industrial & Finishing Skills Centre (OIFSC).
Funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the Architectural Glass and Metal Contractors Association and the Ontario Painting Contractors Association, the OIFSC offers the only apprenticeship-training programs for the painter/decorator and glazier/metal mechanic trades in Ontario.
"If you're interested in an apprenticeship program for these trades, the only place to go is through us," says Earl Dunn, director of training. "We run these programs to ensure that the skill levels of these trades is kept at a high standard."
Dunn says these programs used to be taught at a local Toronto college, but it was discovered that students weren't getting the instruction they required. The only way to rectify the situation was to take the training out of the hands of the schools, and place it in the hands of the centre. That's when the OIFSC took over the training programs.
If you're at least 16 years old and have a Grade 10 (OSSD) education (Grade 12 is preferred), you can qualify for the program. "We'll sit down and talk to you to make sure you know what these trades are all about," Dunn says.
"Most of the people we deal with already have some experience in the trade, but we do have some who just walk in off the street."
For the unionized apprentice, the fee for the program is covered by a training fund supported by government and union contributions. Students who are not part of a recognized trade union will have to pay a $40 registration fee to the government, and $400 per course. You need three courses to complete the apprenticeship program.
"Every time you complete a course, and the required number of hours on the job, you get a raise," Dunn says. "This allows you to graduate to a better income bracket, improve your skills and progress in your chosen trade."
Always interested in furthering the education of its tradespeople, the OIFSC also offers a variety of continuing education courses in subjects as diverse as wall covering, faux finishing, lead abatement, respiratory protection, working in a confined space, WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) and many more.
The OIFSC has schools in Toronto and Ottawa, but still provides training in the more remote areas of Ontario. It achieves this by the use of "mobile training."
"We have a truck and trailer that we use to send our instructors to service outlying areas outside the cities of Toronto and Ottawa," Dunn says. "It's a great way to take the school to students who normally wouldn't be able to make it to our regular schools."
For more information, visit www.OIFSC.com
(Jack Kazmierski (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is a Toronto-based freelance writer and editor.)
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