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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Bart makes his mark

By Linda White
Special to the Toronto Sun

For a high school apprentice, the workplace is a classroom that offers countless opportunities to make mistakes and learn new skills.
Bart Koscow, left, jumpstarted his career with OYAP, a school-work transition program sponsored by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

"In school, you have just one instructor in a classroom," says Bart Koscow, a Grade 12 student at T.L. Kennedy Secondary in Mississauga. "Here, everybody is your teacher. You keep your eyes open, listen to all the good advice they have to offer and learn from your mistakes."

Koscow is working as an auto body and collision damage repair apprentice at Creations Auto Body in Etobicoke. In addition to auto body repair and restoration, the shop does custom work such as headlight and tail light modification.

His tasks include priming, painting and moulding on body panels and skirts. He uses air tools, body hammers, fibreglass fillers, fibreglass resins and a variety of other equipment and materials.

Koscow jumpstarted his career with the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), 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.

Students 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.
  • An auto body and collision damage repairer reviews damages, estimates costs, repairs and replaces parts.
  • Only certified skilled workers and registered apprentices can work in this trade. Training for this trade is for work in Ontario only. It typically takes three to four years to complete this apprenticeship.
  • To be a success in this trade, you will need communications, mechanical aptitude, manual dexterity, good colour vision and blueprint reading skills. Workers may face hard physical work. (

  • The Ministry launched OYAP in 1998 in a bid to attract students to the trades at a younger age. Enrolment in OYAP has increased to more than 12,000 in 2002-2003 from 1,300 students in 1998, a number the Ministry wants to increase to 23,000.

    Employees are key to the success of the program, believes co-op teacher Kim Powidajko. "It's a big commitment for employees to take on paid apprentices and to train them for a co-op placement of four months," she says. "Our school doesn't have a technology department, so co-op and OYAP are the only way they're going to learn the skills needed in today's trades."

    The program allows students to explore careers and decide what's right for them. Many enjoy being part of a team. "Bart is making his mark," says Powidajko. "His problem-solving abilities are sharp. He has an incredible eye for colour, shape and contour."

    He's earned the respect of his employer. "Bart is doing really well," says Dennis Vieira, owner of Creations Auto Body. "He's skilled, hard working and well mannered. He's the first apprentice I've ever hired, but if first impressions mean anything, I'll probably hire another."

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