Windsor

Apprentice program earns high school students cash

The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program teaches students how to use machines before they become registered apprentices. They can make up to $35,000 a year at some placements.

The program reduces the amount of training apprentices need when they arrive on the job

Students at W.F. Herman Secondary School are learning skilled trades and making money through an apprenticeship program. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

High school students are raking in cash during skilled trades apprenticeship programs offered at four Windsor and Essex County public schools.

The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program teaches students how to use machines before they become registered apprentices. They can make up to $35,000 a year at some placements.

The program is offered at Belle River District High School, General Amherst High School, W.F. Herman and Sandwich secondary schools.

During the placement, students learn a variety of skills. Michael McCutcheon-Moore, 19, is currently working at Cavalier Tool in Windsor.

"You're hands-on, you work well with your hands, you can really understand how something needs to be done, what processes you need to do," he said.

Gaining experience

Students familiar with tools now get to work with them on a much larger scale. David Garrett, 17, is working the night shift at Confidence Tool and Mould.

"I've always been messing around with tools and stuff in my basement and it was just bigger machines to work with and it was more fun," Garrett said.

Companies like Cavalier has hired several students from the OYAP program, but sales manager Tim Galbraith said there is still a need for more workers in the skilled trades.

"We're crying for people," he said. "I think you talk to any of the shop owners they'd say the same thing 'if we have more good qualified people, we could do more business."

The program reduces the amount of training apprentices need when they arrive on the job, Confidence plant manager Herman Van Der Heyden said.

"Without this program we'd have to put a skilled tradesman with them and teach them all the fundamentals," he said. "They have that already when they get there."

Interest in the program has grown in the past few years, Herman co-op OYAP teacher Brad McIntosh said, and now companies are calling him for students to work.

He said it provides an opportunity for students who don't think school is for them.

"There is a great opportunity for these students to have a future, to give them an opportunity, to show them that hey you know you don't really have to go to university or college to be successful," he said. "This is for many of our students where that's not for them but this is."

Any student can attend a semester and decide if they want to continue the program or not, McIntosh added.

now