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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Drywall apprentice has room to grow

By Linda White
Special to The Toronto Sun

After working several summers alongside experienced drywall installers, Mark Danyluk learned how to read blueprints, became familiar with the tools of the trade and discovered there was plenty of room to learn more.

"I like being able to take what's on a piece of paper and create something from it," says the Brampton resident.

A student at Chinguacousy Secondary School, the 17-year-old chose to jump-start his career as a drywall installer last fall through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program.
"I like being able to take what's on a piece of paper and create something from it," says 17-year-old drywall apprentice Mark Danyluk.

OYAP is a school-to-work transition program sponsored by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. It allows students to begin training in a skilled trade while they're still in high school.

Students receive co-operative education credits through placement in an apprenticeship occupation while completing their diploma. The hours they work on the job are put towards journeyperson certification.

Danyluk began his apprenticeship with 4 Star Drywall Ltd. in Concord, the same company he worked for as a summer student.

"The company does commercial, residential, institutional and industrial work. They're all really different kinds of projects," Danyluk says. "On industrial and commercial projects, you're building big walls," he says. "Some of those walls have to be insulated to certain specifications, like if they're adjoining walls between two businesses."

His tasks include measuring and cutting drywall, installing brick ties to support brickwork, insulating walls for sound and applying acoustical sealant, installing unistruts on a structural steel ceiling, helping journeymen with specialty plaster assemblies, installing foil back fibreglass insulation on exterior walls and cleaning up the work site.

Danyluk's employer recognizes the need to prepare the next generation of tradespeople.

"At one point in time, we had to bring in people from across Canada to fill the need for drywall installers in Ontario," says Pierre Giasson, partner and supervisor with 4 Star Drywall Ltd.

Today, 4 Star Drywall is a member company of the Interior Systems Contractors

Association, which operates the Interior Finishing Systems Training Centre in Toronto. Danyluk will take courses through the centre as he continues his apprenticeship.

He has earned the praise of his employer and teacher. "Mark is always wanting to learn more and is willing to do anything we ask. He came in with a very good attitude and has a disposition to work," says Giasson.

"This student has an incredible work ethic," says Nancy Thatcher, co-op teacher and co-chair of the Peel Cooperative Education Teachers' Association. "He wants to do it right the first time. At every site I've visited, his supervisors have told me they wish they had 20 guys like him."

Danyluk has learned valuable lessons on the job, including the importance of safety. He has shared many of those lessons at a school job fair, creating a display out of drywall, insulation and other materials he works with.

(Linda White ( is a freelance writer based in Brooklin, Ont.)

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