By Linda White
Special to the Toronto Sun
Just a few years ago, Grant Peck had no idea what he wanted to do for a living. Today, the high school graduate is an industrial electrician apprentice who credits a little soul searching and a co-op placement with giving him the direction he wanted.
"In Grade 9, I didn't know what I wanted to do," says Peck. "I liked computers and wiring, but it wasn't until I sat down with my family to look at careers that I thought about becoming an electrician."
Grant Peck landed a co-op placement at South Lake Regional Health Centre through OYAP
Peck landed a co-op placement at South Lake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket last January, where his responsibilities include servicing electrical equipment and maintaining electrical systems.
By the time Peck graduated from Keswick High School in June, he was registered with the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and already had considerable experience under his belt.
"I learned about health and safety, like what wires not to touch and how to connect them to the breaker," says Peck, 18. "I started off pulling wires through the hospital. Now, I'm pulling wires and connecting them to the breakers. I participated in a shutdown. We wired the hospital so it can run off emergency power, which would allow you to repair a damaged breaker."
As an OYAP student, Peck earned co-operative education credits toward his high school diploma and the hours he works on the job are put toward journeyperson certification. Today, he's looking for placement in first-year apprenticeship program through YMCA's job connect program.
An industrial electrician prepares, installs, maintains, tests, troubleshoots and repairs industrial electrical equipment and assorted electrical and electronic controls.
To be successful in this trade, you need communications, mechanical aptitude, manual dexterity, problem-solving, analytical and organizational skills. You must have good colour vision and be able to read blueprints. You must able to able to visualize and interpret multi-dimensional concepts.
It typically takes four to five years to complete apprenticeship training. People training in this trade may write an exam to work anywhere in Canada.
Information from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.
"Students start out in a co-op placement. If they like it, if their workplace supervisor thinks they have what it takes to succeed and students are committed, they can sign up for OYAP," says co-op teacher Rod Brown.
"Grant will do well. He has a keen desire to learn and his parents are right behind him. He's getting a wide range of experiences. His employer was supportive of him starting his apprenticeship because they could see his abilities."
For many, co-op offers a valuable learning environment. "We have students who struggle in a school atmosphere but who shine in the workplace," Brown says.
His employer is committed to on-the-job training. "Grant has bought into the program. He's asking questions and learning every day," says Marcelino Moniz, manager of physical facilities.
"Co-op gives students a step in the right direction. All these kids need is a chance and an experience. Then they can make an informed decision as to whether this is the trade they want to pursue."
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