By Mike Davey
Toronto, Ontario — April 4, 2017 — Another 20 students are on their way into the collision repair industry, thanks to Tropicana Employment Centre’s Pre-Apprenticeship Program. Mitzie Hunter, Ontario’s Minister of Education, was on hand to congratulate the successful candidates for joining the program. The event also featured a number of industry guest speakers, including Bill Dawe of Max Auto Supply and Key Colour, Peter Wrong of 3M, Collin Welsh of CARSTAR and John Norris of CIIA.
The successes of the Tropicana program are well-known. However, Tropicana has also announced an upcoming program that is designed to help even more people find high-quality careers in the autobody field. The new program will focus on prospective students that don’t have a high school diploma.
“We’ve had to turn away a lot of potential candidates over the years because they didn’t have that high school diploma,” says Marc Tremblay, Tropicana’s coordinator for the autobody programs. “The new program will see students work on the basic academic skills needed for college, while part of each week will be devoted to showing them the collision repair industry.”
The new program will be in addition to the program currently running and is in partnership with the Toronto District School Board Essential Skills Upgrading initiative.The program will lead to candidates obtaining a General Education Diploma following their exam. Candidates that successfully complete the program will earn a place in a career fair strictly for them. More details will be forthcoming in future weeks.
Tropicana Community Services has also announced the receipt of a $9,400 grant through the Ontario150 Community Capital Program. The program is funded by the Government of Ontario and administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The grant will enable Tropicana to replace two safety access ladders and repair the roof at its Centre of Excellence, ensuring that the organization can safely continue delivering vital programs and services.
New partnerships for the Tropicana program include Parkdale Food Banks, which will help to provide groceries for the students throughout the training program, and PPG, who will provide paint certification courses. I-CAR Scholarships for five students are also available.
Overall, the Tropicana program has been extremely successful in introducing young people to the trade.
“The 20 students we just brought into the program stood out because of their passion and desire to enter the field,” says Tremblay. “That program is successful and will continue. The new program will help to expand our net and help the industry find even more passionate young people to enter the collision business.”
The Tropicana program has garnered significant industry support over the years. Tremblay says that the program’s sponsors are a direct reason for its success.
“We’ve raised over $20,000 raised in training support for this year’s class and former alumni,” says Tremblay. “We couldn’t do this without the support of the collision repair industry.”
Tropicana’s 2017 sponsorship partners include CSN-427 Auto Collision, I-CAR, Eugene Collision, CARSTAR Canada, 3M Canada, Auto World Imports, Collision Industry Information Assistance (CIIA), CSN COLLISION CENTRES, CSN-Brimell Paint and Collision Center, Key Colour, Auto Max and Collision Repair magazine.
There’s no doubt that the Tropicana program has done great work in helping to fill the technician roles of the future. However, the program only operates in the Greater Toronto Area. If you’d like to see a similar program in your area, then get in contact with your local community employment organizations. Tremblay has indicated to Collision Repair magazine that he will help them and pass along how he’s run the program so they can start something similar in their communities.
“We want to help the industry any we can,” he says. “Personally, I would love to see a program like start in other communities.”