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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Board expands ITSA program

By Linda White
Special to the Toronto Sun

The Toronto District School Board has expanded its Information Technology Support Analyst (ITSA) apprenticeship program to make it more widely available to students across the city.

The program is aimed at students wanting to become IT support analysts through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program.

It was launched in February 2003 at Bendale Business and Technical Institute, which will continue to offer it as a one-year program for students in Toronto's east end.
Aquiles Milaya, a Bendale Business and Technical Institute student, is working on a co-op placement at Getronics Canada and has decided to become a network analyst.

Three semesters

Beginning in September, the ITSA program will also be offered at Cybridge@George Harvey Collegiate Institute as a three-semester program for students in the west.

Students earn co-op credits toward their high school diploma, while the hours they work on a job are applied to Level 1 certification. Online courses are offered through North Bay's Canadore College, allowing students to earn computer-engineering credits.

Students wanting to complete their Level 2 certification at the college receive advanced standing in its IT program.

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities pays for 80 per cent of Level 2 apprenticeship certification.

At the same time, students gain hands-on experience with Computers for Schools Ontario, a non-profit organization that refurbishes computers donated by businesses and in turn donates them to schools.

The program teaches skills in networking, hardware repair and helpdesk support. Students must specialize in one of those areas as they advance through their apprenticeship.

"Students get a lot of practical, hands-on experience," says Alan Zuck, co-op teacher at Cybridge@George Harvey. "They have the opportunity to specialize in one area or to test out two areas through their co-op placements. Students will be graduating into a career and are focused on what they want to do."

Bendale student Aquiles Milaya has been taking the program since February. He is working on a co-op placement at Getronics Canada, an IT solutions company, and has already decided to become a network analyst.

Competitive field

"It's very competitive field, but it's one that's in very high demand," he says. "It's really challenging me. You really have to work hard to succeed."
  • An information technology support analyst (ITSA) specializes as a hardware, software or helpdesk technician. Each requires communications, problem-solving and analytical skills and typically takes 3 to 4 years to complete required training.
  • Hardware and software technicians support clients in their use of computer applications and operating software. In addition, a hardware technician installs operating system and application software, while a network technician installs, configures and maintains client workstations and network servers connected by a local area network.
  • A helpdesk technician sets up a helpdesk that supports clients in their use of a variety of software applications at an advanced level.
    -- Ministry of Education and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

  • The program has many benefits, believes Bendale teacher Majit Mann.

    "Its real success is making students realize what is possible. From there, they can strive for it and accomplish it."

    To find out more about the Bendale program, contact Manjit Mann at 416-522-1149. To inquire about the program at Cybridge@George Harvey, visit or call Alan Zuck at 416-394-3185, ext. 20135.

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