CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

OYAP gives students the tools to succeed

By Linda White
Special to the Toronto Sun

When Sean Braendel discovered a program that allowed him to jumpstart his career while completing his high school diploma, he knew he had hit the nail on the head. Today, he's well on his way to fulfilling his dream of working as a carpenter.
OYAP student Sean Braendel is on his way to fulfilling his dream of working as a carpenter while still going to school.

"I always knew I liked working with wood," says Braendel, 17, of Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in Toronto. "I decided I wanted to try it out through co-op. It's fun. I really enjoy it."

His co-op teacher arranged a placement at Modular Home Addition, a Toronto-based company that builds second-storey additions for bungalows in just three days.

"We pre-build everything in the shop, from the walls and roof to the floor sections," explains supervisor Predo Ilicic. "The day it's installed, we lift it like a puzzle and fit it on top of the house."

Braendel enjoys learning on the job. "It's a lot easier to remember when you're doing it than reading it in a book," he says. "I started out learning how to be safe and what to watch out for.

"I did a lot of cleaning as I became familiar with the shop, but am now doing a lot of hands-on work. I've gone out to sites to see the demolition work and go back after the addition has been put on."

His enthusiasm shows.
  • A carpenter uses hand and power tools; estimates, calculates and lays out projects; does millwork and joinery; erects foundations, steel and wood framing; does interior and exterior finishing; installs doors, windows and hardware components, including electronics and display work; builds stairs, counters and cupboards; lays flooring; erects scaffolding; installs suspended ceilings; constructs concrete framework and welds.
  • It typically takes three to four years of training to become a carpenter.
  • To be successful in this trade, you need communications and organizational skills, mechanical aptitude, manual dexterity, ability to work at heights and do hard physical work. You must be able to read blueprints and visualize and interpret multi-dimensional concepts. -- Information from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

  • "Sean is doing great," Ilicic says. "He's a talented boy. He's learning how to use air nailers and other power tools. He's very interested in this type of work."

    The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) has helped thousands of students like Braendel explore career options while they're still in high school. Sponsored by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, OYAP helps students obtain placements in one of 130 skilled trades in the auto service, construction, service and manufacturing sectors.

    Students must be at least 16 years old before registering with OYAP.

    They earn co-operative education credits through placement in an apprenticeship while completing their diploma. At the same time, the hours they work on the job are put towards journeyperson certification.

    "Students grow so much over the course of the semester," says David Gibson, curriculum leader of Marc Garneau's co-op department. "Their education becomes more relevant because they've had a chance to apply it in the workforce."

    At the same time, they make significant contributions on a daily basis. "Employers have been happy with the quality of work our co-op students have been producing. Most want to take on another apprentice," Gibson says.

    "It's nice for employers to see students interested in what they do. It's a complement and a real basis to form a mentorship."

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