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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Apprenticeship student on the cutting edge

By Linda White
Special to the Toronto Sun

For high school student Damaris Paulino, a school-work transition program has put her on the cutting edge, allowing her to complete her diploma while preparing for a career as a hairstylist.
Damaris Paulino, a 19-year-old high school student, is earning school credits while collecting hours towards her certification to become a hairstylist.

"It's had really good benefits," Paulino, 19, says of the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). "I find it totally amazing that I can earn school credits while collecting hours towards my certification. I also get to meet a lot of interesting people."

OYAP is sponsored by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Students receive co-operative education credits through placement in an apprenticeship occupation while completing their high school diploma. The hours they work on the job are put towards journeyperson certification.

Paulino is a Grade 12 student at Markville Secondary School in Markham and has been working at Salon Cachet in Unionville since February. She started off with general cleaning duties and has learned how to wash off colour. She is now learning how to mix colours and apply toners.

After graduating at the end of this month, she plans to take an intense 10-month training course to learn how to cut hair.

"I'll work for a year to earn the hours I need and will then take the (certification) exam," says Paulino.
  • A hairstylist cuts and styles hair and provides chemical services such as permanent waving, straightening and colouring. Only registered apprentices and certified skilled workers can work in this trade.
  • It typically takes two years of training to become a hairstylist. People training in this trade may write an exam to work anywhere in Canada.
  • Studying English, math and physics and taking part in a work program will put a student on the right track for an apprenticeship. To be a success in this trade, you will need communications, manual dexterity and good colour vision skills.
    -- Information from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities

  • As she accepts more and more responsibility, she's earned the respect of her employer. "She's doing really well and participates with everybody, from the hairdressers to the customers," says Marisa Cannataro. "She's very focused. When someone walks in the door, she's the first one to take care of them."

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

    "OYAP gives students like Damaris a chance to discover if this career is right for them," says Royce Nettleton, head of alternative education at Markville SS. "More students are becoming aware of the trades and that's good news.

    "Only 28% of students in Ontario go to university and only 23% go to college," he says. "The rest don't graduate or go directly to work. Our board doesn't vary significantly from those numbers. It's important that students are informed of their choices."

    OYAP is a win-win situation, he believes. "A lot of kids we get in this program are at-risk students. Now they're on track."

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