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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Constructing a future in carpentry

By Aunie Edwards
Special to the Toronto Sun

"Ontario boasts one of the most productive construction workforces in the world," says Cristina Selva, director of training at Local 27 Carpenters Training Centre. "The only downside is that we face a demographic cliff in terms of identified training and recruitment needs."
It's a mutual admiration society for OYAP students Thomas Vitti (left) and Joe Iannuzzi and their supervisor Nick Chapman (seated in cab) at Panigas Interior Construction.

Navigating that cliff will require innovative partnerships to train students in the tradition of Ontario's high standards. One such alliance is called the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), a smart initiative that allows students to apprentice in a skilled trade while earning high school credits.

No free ride

Sponsored by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and supported by the York Catholic District School Board (YCDSB) and Carpenters Local 27, OYAP delivers subsidized training, a network of relevant connections and a solid head start toward a rewarding career. But it's no free ride.

The YCDSB ensures a careful selection process at the high school level. Local 27 repeats that process prior to acceptance in their training and apprenticeship program. Careful attention is also given to the work placements -- Local 27 seeks a good personal fit that can deliver the appropriate levels of skills training.

"OYAP is a remarkable program and every effort is made to sustain it," Selva says. "We also mustn't forget the commitment that our community businesses are making -- their contributions are many and their participation is essential. We respect that with careful selection of senior high school students and close monitoring for safety and learning."

Local 27 has been sharing their expertise with OYAP for several years -- their students are those that can adapt to a full-time work environment while carrying a substantial academic workload. They're an industrious bunch and notable among them is Thomas Vitti, a smart young man with a bright future.

That future began at Panigas Interior Construction and Store Fixturing Ltd. "Tom is doing a great job," says Nick Chapman, site supervisor at Panigas. "Local 27 doesn't restrict employment within the union, but we hope to keep Tom -- he's that good." Panigas is a contractor at the Vaughn Mills Mall construction site and Vitti has thus far participated in sheeting the main roof in and applying exterior siding.

"I started with a Level 1 apprenticeship course at Local 27. That gave me an excellent safety and skills background for Panigas," Vitti says. "OYAP and the union record my hours and I have a task book to track my hands-on accomplishments -- everything is well planned and I can concentrate on learning the skills of carpentry. It's a great program and I'm happy to be at Panigas."

7,200 hours to certify

Vitti needs 7,200 hours to certify as a carpenter journeyperson and it's recommended that he bank about 1,800 hours of on-the-job training before taking his intermediate course at Local 27.
The Carpenters' Local Union 27 Joint Apprenticeship and Training Trust Fund Inc.
  • The Carpenters' Local Union 27 Joint Apprenticeship and Training Trust Fund has moved to their new digs at 222 Rowntree Dairy Rd., Woodbridge, Ont., L4L 9T2
  • This new 62,000-sq.- ft., state-of-the-art facility has the space and height requirements for full-scale training. Students can actually construct a house in this facility.
  • Practical hands-on instruction is conducted with the latest in equipment -- students learn on the same machinery and equipment that future employers are using.
  • Fully equipped electronic classrooms with computerized whiteboards can accommodate learning disabilities during the theory component of the course.

  • "Union educators make sure we have the required skills to advance to the next level of training," Vitti says. "It makes the course manageable because we're fully prepared for each stage."

    Vitti's course takes place at a state- of- the-art facility in Woodbridge. "We just moved to a new centre,"Selva says. "It's a 62,000-sq.-ft. 'workshop' with the height and space requirements to deliver full scale training."

    Theory is provided in fully equipped classrooms with electronic whiteboards. Says Selva, "The computer projects the selected image and through touch screen capabilities, the instructor can add notes and print documents -- the tool is meant to accommodate learning disabilities."

    Vitti graduated last month from Cardinal Carter Catholic High School. He will continue to work at Panigas while accumulating hours and developing strong professional relationships. Tom Vitti is one more success on OYAP's growing list.

    To learn more, call 416-749-7440 or visit the website at

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