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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Apprenticing fosters can-do attitude

By Linda White
Special to The Toronto Sun

When Angelo Bove asked to be re-admitted to school after being kicked out, he had a lot to prove -- to his teachers and himself. He went to night school to make up for lost credits, signed up for co-op and dove into his studies.

When he graduated from W.L. Mackenzie Collegiate Institute in Toronto last June, Bove was on the honour roll, earned a co-op award and was well on his way to becoming a licensed automotive service technician.
Angelo Bove, right, is learning to be an automotive service technician under the supervision of Angelo Villani at A & A Auto Repair in Downsview, Ont.

The 19-year-old credits a co-op course with giving him the direction he needed. "I'm more of a hands-on learner. When I was young, my dad taught me to work on cars. My dream was to become an auto mechanic."

After returning to school, Bove registered with the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), a school-work transition program sponsored by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Students receive co-operative education credits toward their high school diploma, while the hours they work on the job are put toward journeyperson certification.

Bove began his co-op placement and apprenticeship at A&A Auto Repair in Downsview, Ont. in Sept. 2002. He started out sweeping floors and cleaning and putting away tools. He's now a licensed Drive Clean inspector and loves working on everything from electrical and internal engines to brakes and suspension.

For a school project, Bove converted an old car into a hot rod with variable valve timing. "I told him if the car starts, he'd pass," says employer Angelo Villani. "He spent many Sundays in the shop pulling wires. Today, that's his everyday car."

Villani has taken on apprentices for the past 15 years and takes pride in their successes. "Most of them now have their own garages," he says. "I still hear from a lot of them. They still phone for advice."
"I learned the hard way, but here I am, doing something I love," says auto-motive service technician Angelo Bove.

Employers are key to the success of OYAP. "They're mentors. They're good role models for the kids," says Bove's co-op teacher, Leslie Whiler. "Working with someone who knows the trade speeds the learning process."

She credits OYAP with giving students a chance to explore a career while they're still in high school. "It gives them a chance to pursue their dreams and decide if this is what they want to do before they invest several years at college or university," she says.

"Co-op allowed Angelo to focus on what he wanted to do," Whiler adds. "For kids who like to do rather than learn theory, it's really the answer. In the classroom, they can't do (the practical work). When they're out in the workforce, they are contributing and they are doing."

Bove will attend Centennial College next fall to complete the education component of his apprenticeship. He continues to prove he has what it takes to succeed, and is especially proud that his teacher trusted him to repair her family's vehicles.

"She pushed me to getting better grades and getting on track," he says. "I learned the hard way but here I am, doing something I love.

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

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