By Andrew Ardizzi
Toronto, Ontario — April 8, 2013 — A new class of students is primed and ready to dive into the collision repair industry with AYCE’s 2013 launch of its auto body pre-apprenticeship program.
“You’re here because you are career minded and you want to be here,” Marc Tremblay, co-ordinator of AYCE’s Autobody and Collision Damage Repairer pre-apprenticeship program, told a room full of eager young students.
AYCE’s programs specifically target youth who have faced considerable personal and academic challenges in their lives, giving them the chance to better themselves and build a future they can be happy in. The program is six weeks long and exposes each of them to parts of the collision repair industry, ending with 12-weeks of classes at Centennial College.
Wayne James, Director of Operations at Maaco Systems Canada, is a veteran of the business with over 30 years of experience. He too started out as an apprentice and finds the value in giving the young men and women in the pre-apprenticeship program a chance to learn, grow and apply themselves within a trade.
“I started in the same position that you guys are in today,” says James during his chat with the students. “We get into a trade because we want to build something. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for you.”
Tremblay says each of the students enrolled in the auto body pre-apprenticeship program were rigourously interviewed by himself, James and former graduates. The 2013 program originally had over 150 applicants, making the few in attendance truly lucky.
Lance Jasperson, a student in the program, is ready to take the opportunity before him and make the best of it in hopes of building a new life for himself.
“It means an opportunity to find myself a career,” he says. “I’m looking for something stable and something that I can be proud of at the end of it.”
Jasperson notes that before entering the program he worked in construction and found himself unfulfilled with his seasonal, sporadic work.
“It allows me to finally be an adult, finally be a man, get a car, get a house. Those kinds of things,” he says.
Usman Baruwa, whose brother Mohammed is a graduate of the program and on the verge of getting his level 3 certification, wants to use this opportunity to springboard himself towards achieving his dream of designing race cars to make them safer for drivers.
“I currently work at a restaurant and I don’t see myself there for the long term,” he says, having never grown accustomed to living from pay cheque to pay cheque. “I’m very grateful for this chance and I don’t want to mess this up.”
The younger Baruwa says his older brother was an inspiration for him, and that reassures him that he too can thrive in the program.
“By him succeeding, to see that he can overcome his obstacles, shows me that we both have a chance to do well,” he says.
He is poised to tackle the challenges before him, welcoming them with open arms.
“For anyone who wants to do hands-on work, they should look for a career in the trades,” he says. “More people should look to see what’s out there.”
Tremblay finds the work he does in organizing the program rewarding, and that the success students find make his efforts worthwhile.
“The greatest reward I get is from seeing them moving forward,” Tremblay says. “It is the knowledge that we are making a change in their lives. The youth that are here believe in their hearts that this is a chance to change their lives.”
Tremblay does his best to stay in touch with his former students, noting his 2010 class specifically which routinely updates him as their careers progress.
“One of the greatest things is when someone from my 2010 class calls me up and says they’ve moved up a level or are going back to school,” he says.
James is equally excited that a new group of faces is entering the trade.
“It’s nice to see all of these kids who had no idea what they wanted to do in their lives take a step in the right direction,” says James. “I see hope in the trade again. I see hope in the collision repair industry to have some new people. It’s a beautiful day to see this at a grassroots level.”
Tremblay is especially excited about this group of students, feeling they have a tremendous chance to succeed in the program and beyond.
“They’re hungry, they want that change. They need that change,” Tremblay says. “In their hearts we could tell they wanted it.”
|Wayne James, Director of Operations at Maaco Systems Canada, AYCE’s 2013 pre-apprenticeship auto body class and Marc Tremblay.|