Forest Heights Community School Student First Official Youth Apprentice on South Shore
By Stacey Colwell
Published March 17, 2009
CHESTER - People like C.J. Hubley are forcing people to challenge their assumptions.
"This program is seen in a whole different light now because we see success stories like C.J.," said Dave Broome, Chester Area Middle School's co-op and options and opportunities (O2) co-ordinator.
"This is a kid who probably would have struggled and had a hard time graduating."
Instead, the Grade 11 student has turned things around and is now the South Shore Regional School Board's first official youth apprentice.
"Instead of him being an issue, he's become an asset to the school," said Mr. Broome.
"Without O2, I'm not sure that would have been the case."
In fact, Mr. Hubley credits mechanic Jeffrey Dunsworth, whom he works with as an apprentice, for keeping him in school.
"The only reason I didn't drop out was because Jeff told me if I did, that I wouldn't have a job. I thought about dropping out after last year. Now I know I have to stay in school."
Since then, his marks are up across the board, he's earning credit toward educational requirements at the Nova Scotia Community College and he's working towards a career in the field he loves.
"Some people think kids like C.J. are lazy … and youth apprenticeship is an easy way out for them, but more and more, people are realizing these kids are learning with their hands. They can't sit in a classroom for hours," said Mr. Broome.
Initiatives such as options and opportunities give students that outlet they need.
"It's the fact I can get dirty every day at school - that's what I like," laughed C.J.
"People don't look at you differently because you come to school with dirty hands."
O2 is a provincial program designed to emphasize that hands-on learning and help students make successful transitions from high school to work, a career path or post-secondary program.
Now in its third year at Forest Heights, options and opportunities has grown steadily to the point where Mr. Broome expects 40 applicants for the 20 spots available.
"Last year, people started to realize what the program was all about. At first, I think people thought it was going to be a dumping ground … that's completely the opposite of what we do. We actually go through quite a selection process and we don't take just anybody."
Youth apprentices are paid byemployers while learning the practical aspects of their chosen trades. They are registered with the Department ofLabour and Workforce Developmentand eligible to count their hours towards a formal apprenticeship.
Employers benefit, too.
"Employees start at a lower rate, you get to train the person the way you want them trained, so they become the employee you want," said Mr. Broome.
"Plus, coming out of O2, they're much more prepared than the typical student walking out of high school. These kids are ready to get to work."
Tradespeople willing to take on an apprentice or co-op student should call their local high school.
"There's not too many trades where I couldn't say, 'I'd love to send this person your way,'" said Mr. Broome.
"I could find something for anybody right now."
For more information about the youth apprenticeship program, check on-line at workitns.ca.