Carlie Williams is a second year Digital Journalism and English student at the University of Windsor. Lover of Friends, long naps, iced coffee, and her beagle Zoey.
Greater Essex County District school board held their second meeting of the New Year this past Tuesday, with one of the nights agenda topics being the continuation of the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program or OYAP. Superintendent of Education, Dan Fister, says the skills trade program has been in existence for 20 years, with over 50 programs in all their secondary schools.
The OYAP program, helps grade 11 and 12 high school students to take part in a co-op placement at an appreciable trade, with the ending result, a job right out of high school.
Ed Kotevich, a technical department head and OYAP leader at Herman secondary school, says the program is doing an excellent job at getting students interested.
“Basically we start even younger. Grade eights, we do presentations. Definitely bringing grade eights to the high schools, we talk about OYAP, and in grade nine and ten we make a point of trying to identify potential students that would be interested in grade nine and ten tech classes. A lot of marketing, a lot of advertising. We really focus in grade ten, we try to identify the right students and get them into the application process,” Kotevich says.
Dan says in the area over 600 students are taking part in this learning experience, within the last three years, numbers growing over 40%.
Students like Jake Filiaut, a grade 12 student participating in OYAP at Reko International, says when he started taking manufacturing a teacher introduced him to the OYAP program, something his parents were very excited about. He says he’s always been very hands on and has had a love for fixing things and working on cars and thats what made the program interesting.
“It’s really awesome, you get to, like, work two whole semesters where you’re not even at school. I work at Reko International on Patillo Road. We make moulds, plastic injection moulds. A lot of stuff for cars. There’s, like, eighteen kids in my class doing the same thing.” Filiaut explains.
Dan Fister, superintendent agrees. “Engagement’s high, they’re learning more, their feet are on a path and like Jake said, “I’m enjoying what I’m doing”, highly engaged, they’re treated well, and they’re very confident in the work that they’re doing. So when you talk about student engagement, our OYAP program does that for our kids.”
With programs like OYAP, partnerships are formed and future jobs are created for many students. Companies like Reko International say they will lose 50% of their workforce in the next fifteen years, but OYAP can help to replace that population.
“That’s true mentoring, that’s true apprenticeship, that’s a true commitment, and that’s what we do,” says Fister.