CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Student graduates into a trades career

By Linda White
Special to the Toronto Sun

Each day, he's becoming more and more adept at working with the precision machines and equipment used to make tooling and dies. Each day, Ahmad Sharifi is also developing the accuracy demanded by this trade.
A recent graduate of Marc Garneau Collegiate in Toronto, Ahmad Sharifi chose to become a tool and die maker after making scale models of the Canada Arm and car parts for the high school's automotive shop.

"At school, you can make little mistakes, but here, every mistake costs both time and money. You can be working on a job for three weeks and have to start all over again because of a little mistake," Sharifi says.

A recent graduate of Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Sharifi chose to become a tool and die maker after making scale models of the Canada Arm and car parts for the school's automotive shop.

He signed up with the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and is working as an apprentice at Phil Bouchard & Sons, a jobbing shop in Toronto.

OYAP is a school-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. They 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.

"It's an opportunity for students to take their learning and put it to use," co-op teacher Karen Ford says. "Often, they think what they're learning in the classroom has no relevance in the work world. This shows them how important it is."

OYAP also gives students a chance to rise to the challenge of skilled trades. "Ahmad will be a phenomenal success," Ford says. "When they need someone to help on the machines, they ask for him."

According to the Ministry of Education, work experience and courses in English, math and physics will put students on the right track to prepare for a career as a tool and die maker.

To be successful in this trade, you need communications,

mechanical aptitude, manual dexterity, blueprint reading, problem-solving, analytical
What you need to know
  • A tool and die maker designs, makes, modifies and repairs dies, forms, cutting tools, gauges, jigs and fixtures for the stamping industry.
  • Apprenticeship training is recommended for those wanting to work in this trade.
  • People training in this trade may write an exam to work anywhere in Canada.
  • It typically takes three to four years to complete this apprenticeship.

    -- Ministry of Education and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (

  • and organizational skills. You must be able to visualize and interpret multi-dimensional drawings.

    "Students need to be strong in math and need to be able to see drawings and understand them. Those are skills we can build on," says Jeep Bouchard, owner of Phil Bouchard & Sons.

    The shop does custom work for a variety of industries, including elevator, mining, paper manufacturing and medical.

    "One person can work with five or six different kinds of metal in a day," Bouchard says. For the past 27 years, the shop has helped train students. "The guy who's been here the longest started with a program similar to OYAP."

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