Nothing speaks more eloquently of the overwhelming success of the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) than the prosperity of the initiative's benefactors.
Through OYAP, students across the city can learn a skilled trade on the job while simultaneously earning high school credits. OYAP eases the transition between school and career. Graduates enter the world of work with clear goals, well-established plans, a meaningful resume and relevant professional connections.
"I really enjoy the work and the people," says Freddie Pincente, who's completing a plumbing apprenticeship at A & E Plumbing.
The York Catholic District School Board is a strong advocate of OYAP, and all of its schools are encouraged to foster partnerships with the business community and connect industrious students to the initiative.
Freddie Pincente, a senior at St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School and a plumber apprentice at A & E Plumbing Ltd., is notable in a field of exceptional success stories.
"Freddie is one of my best stories of this school year," says Dan Covre, co-op co-ordinator at St. Joan of Arc CHS. "He's registered with OYAP and the union, local 183. He's already accumulated a substantial number of hours toward his apprenticeship and he has a great relationship with his employer at A & E Plumbing -- all this from a kid who actually considered leaving his education behind."
Pincente's turnaround is due to Covre's dedication, as well as his own hard work and ability to focus on a better future. But his success can also be attributed to the direction provided by OYAP.
"All Freddie needed was a road map -- a sustainable path to implement his talents and abilities in a skilled field," Covre says. "Through OYAP, he now has an attainable goal, a way to achieve it and a very real and tangible reason to stay in school and complete his high school diploma."
To write his certification exam and become a licensed plumber, Pincente will need to log 9,000 hours of relevant work.
"I've been working part time and summers with A & E Plumbing for a few years now," Pincente says. "A lot of this work is qualified plumbing training, so OYAP has acknowledged it -- as a result, I've accumulated more than half of my requirement already."
Indeed, Pincente has passed his first level of college training and will soon enter his intermediate college studies, after which he will need one more eight-week block of classes to achieve his advanced level of study.
A & E Plumbing caters mostly to new home construction and residential service calls. Under supervision, Pincente is involved in all aspects of the field.
"We work on everything from water service to roughing in to finishing plumbing throughout the house," Pincente says. "I really enjoy the work and the people."
In addition to his duties at the workplace, Pincente is required to attend classes at St. Joan of Arc every other week. "We deal with issues that may arise at the job and we spend time re-enforcing what the OYAP student is learning about the world of work -- communication, time management, transferable job skills," Covre says.
"Our main objective is to help them succeed in the path they have chosen."
(Aunie Edwards (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is a Guelph-based freelance writer.)
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