Proud graduates at AYCE's 2014 Auto Body Collision and Damage Repairer Graduation and Appreciation Event.  

By Melissa Hayes

Toronto, Ontario -- August 25, 2014 -- The months of hard work and dedication paid off for this year’s AYCE auto body collision class as they took centre stage during the program’s 2014 graduation ceremony.

Held at the Radisson Hotel’s Toronto East location, students’ families and industry supporters gathered to honour the program’s successes as its latest intake looks forward to taking the next step in their careers.

“This year, for us to have an 85 percent success rate, is definitely a testament to the dedication you’ve brought to this program and the dedication that I know you’re going to bring forth to this trade,” says Marc Tremblay, co-ordinator of AYCE Employment Services’ Pre-Apprenticeship Training for Auto Body Collision and Damage Repair program, addressing the graduating class. “You’re definitely going to give AYCE and Tropicana Community Services a proud name.”

Beginning with a welcoming address from AYCE Director Nimo Abdulkadir, the event then gave program supporters, such as Audatex Software and I-CAR Canada, a chance to praise AYCE and the importance of staying ahead of the curve as evolving technologies require additional training.

Jill Hache of I-CAR Canada says such technologies demand that industry workers have access to modern and in-depth training programs. Keeping with this trend of change, Tremblay and Audatex were pleased to announce the inclusion of estimate writing to the course’s curriculum, which will be available for past and future students.

Audatex’s Carla Matta says since meeting with AYCE in January, she’s been looking forward to giving students access to the company’s estimating software, a sentiment shared by Tremblay.

“It’s a very exciting time for our pre-apprenticeship program to be bringing estimating into our training, and I can confirm following our meeting that it’s semi-official. We had a number of shops donate their time and services to teach our students the program,” he says.

Following the announcement, CIIA’S John Norris shared insights into AYCE’s development, and how shops have become increasingly supportive and receptive of the program.

“During the first year, it was difficult to get employers to hire AYCE’s graduates. Marc had to go out, and it was like pulling teeth,” Norris says. “That doesn’t happen anymore because the employers in the GTA are now eager to find out when the next application dates are. It’s a positive sign for the program, and a positive sign, significantly for the people who are going to be employed. The demand is now higher, the classroom has created a demand for your skills and competencies.”

Former students Lorne Jackson and Mohammed Baruwa served as examples of the program’s evolution and success as they took turns at the mic to offer words of encouragement to this year’s graduating class.

“Always put in 110 percent, the sky is the limit for you guys,” says Jackson, who completed the program in 2012. “There are great techs out there, follow one, find one, and hold on to that tech, because they are going to teach you everything you need to know.”

Tony Albuquerque of Assured Automotive was also in attendance to accept an Employer Appreciation award. As a strong partner of the program since its inception, and having given 2010 graduate Baruwa his first job, he says he is thrilled to welcome another student from the 2014 class and hopes to continue his longstanding support of AYCE.

Tremblay then acknowledged Ahad Hoosein and Darryl Roberts of Centennial College for their contributions and unwavering support of the program. Achim Krull was also called upon for his ongoing guidance as AYCE academic instructor and longtime friend and former secondary school teacher of Tremblay’s.

As the evening drew to a close, mayoral hopeful John Tory was on hand to announce AYCE’s 2014 student of the year. As an established supporter of youth employment programs, Tory spoke to the importance of AYCE and similar city-wide initiatives and the role they play in engaging the city’s youth while encouraging them to further their education.

“I just wanted you to know how much in admiration I am of Tropicana and of AYCE, and in particular of the students who were in the program who are all standing here now with their certificates as evidence of the fact that they’ve finished the program successfully and will go off now to take their place in doing whatever kind of work they want to do with these skills in hand,” Tory says. “I think we’ve got to repeat this over and over and over and over again across the city, and it’s one of the things I’m very determined to do as the mayor because . . . they deserve nothing less from us than that.”

Taking home the Student of the Year Award was Derek Avery, who thanked his classmates, friends and family for their support throughout the program, adding that the experience was life changing.

 
AYCE 2014 Student of the Year Derek Avery accepts his award from special guest and mayoral hopeful, John Tory.  

“These past 19 weeks haven’t been easy, but all of us standing up here tonight managed to push through any obstacles that came our way and for that I want to say congratulations to all of you,” he says. “This program has pretty much changed me. In high school I didn’t really care too much about school, and I came here and Marc showed me the way. I couldn’t pick a different career, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I can’t wait to get into the shop and start working.”

As the crowds thinned and the final goodbyes and congratulations were given, Tremblay reflected on the year, and this specific group of students.

“To me, this event means that our class succeeded, they’ve worked hard, they’ve reached their goals, and this is a celebration of them taking the next step in their lives,” he says, adding that he hopes to see them obtain their Red Seals within the next five years. “What makes me feel good about tonight is knowing they made it, that they’ve achieved their goals and that they have job placements, and knowing that they’re now on the right path.”

That was hardly the highlight of the event for him, though.

“Without a doubt, my favourite part was meeting their families, their parents,” he says. “Seeing the joy on their faces to see where their kids are today, that is the best part for me.”

 

 

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