Academic achievement, team work and self management skills -- these elements are the foundation of employability," says Ron Dorcas, co-op co-ordinator for Sacred Heart Catholic High School. "We want our students to graduate with this foundation."
To reach their objective, Sacred Heart C.H.S. often relies on a unique collaboration between the business community of Newmarket, the York Catholic District School Board and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP).
"OYAP is the best way for a student to hook up to (roofing). You know you're getting the best training possible," says roofing apprentice Jay Carter, left, with supervisor Chris Reynolds, at his work placement with Trades of all Jack.
Sponsored by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, OYAP and the school board give qualifying students the opportunity to apprentice in a skilled trade within the professional community while earning high school credits.
One of those students is Jay Carter, a senior at Sacred Heart C.H.S. and a roofer apprentice.
"I am so pleased to be a part of OYAP," Carter says. "This program hooked me up with respected professionals in the field -- Doug Woods was my original supervisor and Frank Barkley was my crew leader -- they're subcontractors for Chouinard Bros. Roofing. With their expertise and my high school backing me up, I believe I had the best kind of training."
"Built on a base of academic skills, OYAP combines hands-on experience with a structured curriculum meant to guide our students and enhance their learning," Dorcas says. "Throughout the work placement, we teach our students how to think critically, act logically, manage their time and work well with others. These are transferable job skills learned at the workplace and in the classroom."
After Carter completed his placement, he was hired by a company named Trades of all Jack. Their work is subcontracted by another big name in the business, Donia Aluminum and Roofing.
"Jay's a really good kid -- he's a quick learner, he's got an excellent work ethic, he's self sufficient and totally dependable -- I would really hate to lose him," says Chris Rhynold, owner of Trades of all Jack. "For instance, this summer he worked at a new home site -- he single handedly roofed 25 to 30 houses in about 40 days. He did a really fine job."
When Carter completes high school, he will do so with an exceptional grasp of the working world and a solid position within that world.
"OYAP is the best way for a student to hook up to this business," Carter says. "You know you're getting the best training possible."
Further to its well guided training formula, Carter hopes that the ministry's involvement in roofing apprenticeships might eventually lead to certification for the trade. "When you don't need to certify, it basically means you don't need to qualify to become a roofer -- but that only hurts the trade," Carter says. "There are some excellent professionals out there, but how can you tell them apart from the characters that don't know what they're doing until it's possibly too late? I would like certification to be required so that when contractors like Donia or Chouinard Bros. see my name, they'll know I'm a qualified, skilled roofer and I'll get the job done well."
Indeed, it is Carter's goal to be associated with the highest standards of professional work by all the contractors in the field.
"I'm kind of young to be recognized in this business, but I'm working hard to make a good name for myself," Carter says.
He brings his passion for quality to every job site and for those who know him, the name of John James (Jay) Carter is already synonymous with 'a job well done'.
(Aunie Edwards (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is a Guelph-based freelance writer.)
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