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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Apprentice looks forward to lucrative future

By Aunie Edwards
Special to The Toronto Sun

Each of us can likely pinpoint a defining moment, a single step in one direction that determined who we become and what we accomplish. For Adam Griffin, that moment involved a mentor, a talent and a smart initiative.

The mentor is Ron Dorcas, a committed educator and co-op coordinator for Sacred Heart Catholic High School. The talent is Griffin's hands on skill and the initiative that gave him a platform is the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP).

"The York Catholic District School Board has long been an advocate of OYAP," Dorcas says. "With a well planned in-school component, the board rightly believes that OYAP is a worthwhile path for those who wish to explore the many opportunities available in the skilled trades."
"I discovered a natural ability in drywall finishing that I wanted to pursue," says apprentice Adam Griffin, who got his start at the Interior Finishing Systems Training Centre in Toronto.

By allowing students to apprentice while earning high school credits, OYAP combines practical education within the context of the working world.

Students graduate with skills specific to their trade of choice and with relevant professional connections to that trade.

In the case of Adam Griffin, a valuable connection was made through the Interior Finishing Systems Training Center.

"I discovered a natural ability in drywall finishing that I wanted to pursue. So Mr. Dorcas guided me toward OYAP and the Interior Finishing Systems Training Center, where I began learning drywall techniques while I was still in high school," Griffin says.

Griffin got his start at the premier authority in interior finishing and a one-of-a kind-facility in Toronto.

"We're run by the contractor's association -- we have excellent suppliers that provide us with the newest materials and we train our students on the most advanced techniques and finishes available," says Candi Colandrea, training coordinator for Interior Finishing Systems Training.

"Adam learned things like the different compound mixes for faux finishes, he gained experience in trim work and pre-cast moulds -- he received complete, state-of-the-art training. And OYAP accumulated his apprentice hours and subsidized that training."

When Griffin entered the center, he was signed on to the union. This gave him a direct link with Toronto area contractors and he has been gainfully employed since his first eight-week program.

"Through OYAP, Adam achieved a seamless transition from high school to a solid career," Dorcas says.

OYAP has been a large contributor to Griffin's success, but his talent and work ethic are equally responsible.

"Adam is an award winning student," Colandrea says. "He won first in his class for both level one and two of his training. In the advanced level, that gets you a $1,000 prize. Adam may even be called to participate in the regional and international level competitions -- he's that good."

Since his high school graduation in 2001, Griffin has been working for Tabrco Drywall Systems.

"Adam proved himself quickly," says Joe Botelho, general supervisor for Tabrco. "He has a light touch -- he's a good finisher and he's got the right attitude."

Says Griffin, "I do taping, finishing and plastering -- everything that needs doing before the paint goes on the wall. I like a job where you can see your results -- I walk away knowing that I've done well, and that's a good feeling. The pay is great, and there is a high demand for this skill so I also have real job security, and that's important too."

Griffin has completed 3,400 of the 5,400 hours he needs to certify as a skilled drywall finisher. But even before he reaches that goal, Adam Griffin can lay claim to numerous accomplishments derived from his defining moment. And he can already declare a secure future where the work is abundant and lucrative. (Aunie Edwards ( is a Guelph-based freelance writer.)

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