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Apprenticeship: Ontario colleges lead the way.

Did you know that more than 90 per cent of apprenticeship training in Ontario goes on right in our public colleges? John Woodward, Dean of the School of Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship at Durham College, says, "Companies realize the value in turning to colleges for their apprenticeship and training needs." Those needs are critical, with an aging workforce already creating labour shortages that are, according to the Conference Board of Canada, expected to worsen after 2010.

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Durham College bases most of its apprenticeship training out of its Skills Training Centre in Whitby. "We also offer online trades training to college students across Ontario. In Sault Ste. Marie, for example, Domtar required millwrights to work 300 km north of town. We partnered with the company and Sault College to deliver the theory portion online."

In another interesting partnership, Durham worked with the Technical Standards Safety Authority, the Ministry and industry to establish an apprenticeship in the trade of Elevating Device Mechanic. "Companies donated escalators and elevators," Woodward says, "because when students are properly trained on the equipment, the chances of recalls or improper repairs are minimized."

Conestoga boasts the Woodworking Center of Ontario, which is unique in North America. The college is also one of eight involved in the pilot apprenticeship/diploma co-op program in Manufacturing Engineering Technician/Tool & Die, Metal Machining or Machine Tool Builder & Integrator through which students receive a post-secondary diploma and complete the in-class portion of their apprenticeship in 2 1/2 years (includes 52 weeks of co-op education in industry as a sponsored apprentice). "We are located in one of Ontario's most heavily concentrated manufacturing areas," says Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Hans Zawada. "The program addresses what employers want, which is a broader knowledge base and hands-on experience."

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In addition to 14 apprenticeships, Conestoga College offers the new Machine Tool Builder Integrator. Associate Vice-President of the School of Engineering and Information Technology and the School of Trades and Apprenticeship Mike McClements explains that this apprenticeship was conceived and designed specifically for the automation industry. "This program is expected to grow significantly because of the number of automotive-based companies in the area."

Piero Cherubini is Chair, Motive Power and Stoney Creek Programs at Mohawk College. One of Ontario's largest deliverers of apprenticeship training, Mohawk accommodates more than 3,000 apprentices each year. "In addition to traditional apprenticeship programs, we deliver the two-year co-op Integrated Technician Apprenticeship program," Cherubini says, "that provides graduating students with a diploma and advanced standing in apprenticeship training as an Industrial Mechanics (Millwright) and Industrial Electricians." This forward-thinking approach to education and training recently won Mohawk College the prestigious Yves Landry Foundation Award of Excellence for Advancing Technological Education and Skills Training.

Dofasco is one of the companies that work with Mohawk. R. Brian Mullen, Director of Dofasco Inc., says, "Together we have built Dofasco's apprenticeship program into the second largest in Ontario."

Rod Cameron, Dean of Apprenticeship and Motive Power Technology at Fanshawe College, points out that, "Many of our apprenticeship programs are complimented by post-secondary offerings. Students in the electrical and electronics areas may study robotics and process control using the same facilities for those training to be industrial electrician apprentices." Fanshawe is building a new Construction Technology Centre to train workers in a number of trades to accommodate the growth in this sector. "If we can maintain this level of training for three to five years," Cameron says, "we can go a long way to addressing the impending skills shortage."

Niagara College embraces apprenticeships in a number of industries including hospitality. "We are the hospitality and tourism college," points out Manager of Corporate Communications Darrell Neufeld. In Spring 2004, the college opened a $10 million facility to house its Hospitality, Culinary and Tourism programs. Dave Taylor, Dean of Hospitality and Tourism, says, "What we do fosters growth in the region's hospitality industry. Students can apprentice as cooks, bakers or patissiers, and the college offers a two-year diploma program in Culinary Management." Niagara is one of the schools involved in the pilot program that blends post-secondary and apprenticeship. "By registering as an apprentice and participating in the diploma program, students end up with credit toward the diploma, and after a certain number of work hours, they can write the exam for the Red Seal Trade designation."

Victor Alderson is Head of Apprenticeship at Lambton College, which currently offers apprenticeships in seven trades. "Employers in Sarnia and Lambton County tell us they want employees trained locally," Alderson says. "One example is hairstyling. Previously, apprentices in the area were completing in-school segments in Windsor, Durham Region or Toronto. We are now the training delivery agent for the in-school portion using facilities at Alexander MacKenzie Secondary School in partnership with the Lambton Kent District School Board. We offer this part-time on Monday and Tuesday evenings, which allows apprentices to continue their daytime work."

Confederation College is home to an exciting new Aboriginal Women in the Skilled Trades pre-apprenticeship training program funded under the Ontario Women's Directorate. The program will begin in January 2005 for Aboriginal women who want to work in the electrical or welding trades. According to Confederation's Executive Director of Skills Development Don Bemosky, "Upon successful completion of the 28-week program, students may have the opportunity to be hired as apprentices in the industrial sector. This is being offered in conjunction with the Long Lake First Nation in the Geraldton/Greenstone area and the Fort William First Nation in Thunder Bay, who were the initial proponents of the program." Among Confederation's other industry partnerships is one with Weyerhaeuser in Dryden. The company has built shop facilities onsite for offering a dual certification program, and for other training opportunities for the college and community at large. Confederation is also updating and web enabling the Technical Calculations and Sciences CD Rom used to teach applied math and science to apprentices.

According to Lynne Wallace, Executive Director of the College Sector Committee for Adult Upgrading, colleges are providing alternate routes for individuals to access apprenticeship programs. "The average age of apprentices is late twenties. Some students haven't graduated from high school, or haven't completed the right subjects to access further training. An apprentice requires a Grade 12 certificate or its equivalent, and it's the 'equivalent'--the Academic and Career Entrance, or ACE certificate, that's provided through adult upgrading."

Job Connect is also a valuable resource for information on apprenticeship. Dan Goldring, Executive Director of Job Connect for the college sector, says, "In addition, we can offer extra support to help people with things like tools, work boots, even bus tickets." The government recently announced 1,500 scholarships of $1,000 each for youth who are willing to return and finish high school requirements in order to enter apprenticeships, with a $2,000 signing bonus to the employers for each apprentice they hire.

Another step in addressing the skills shortage in the province is to expose students to possibilities at a young age. Seneca College runs a program in partnership with York Catholic District School Board that is similar to the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. "Grade 12 students earn two credits toward their high school diploma, and one Seneca subject credit should they eventually enroll in any of the college's Mechanical programs," says Ken Ellis, Co-ordinator of the Skills Program in Seneca's Centre for Advanced Technologies.

Woodward adds, "Colleges working in co-op fashion with apprenticeships is a win-win situation. That's why we're here--to help students obtain the education and training they need for employment."

Ontario Government's Training Hotline * 1-888-JOB-GROW (Toronto 416-326-5656)

OYAP * www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/training/apprenticeship/skills/oyap.html

Job Connect * www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/training/cepp/cepp.html
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Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1CONT
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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