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Feature   April 1, 2002   by CARS Magazine

Local Apprenticeship Committee Embraces Mentor/Coach Training

Ottawa's Local Apprenticeship Committee (LAC) - Motive Power has always sought to provide recognition to technicians that have demonstrated their skills over and above that required by the province. T...


Ottawa’s Local Apprenticeship Committee (LAC) – Motive Power has always sought to provide recognition to technicians that have demonstrated their skills over and above that required by the province. This year’s LAC banquet will mark the last opportunity for the LAC to award plaques to those technicians that achieved Interprovincial Red Seal status in addition to their provincial Certificate of Qualification. This follows Ontario’s decision to provincially certify its technicians at the Interprovincial Red Seal examination score. For the LAC, this created both a problem and an opportunity.

The LAC spent a good part of last year developing a strategic plan after taking a good long look at the challenges facing apprenticeship in Ontario, with a focus on Ottawa and the region. The two most prominent themes in the strategy were around workplace training for apprentices and the industry’s inability to attract and retain capable employees. After taking a look at CARS activities in these two areas, they invited a representative to make a presentation on the Mentor/Coach (M/C) Program and the Career Awareness Project. According to Mike Torunski, Service Manager at Graham Nissan and LAC’s Chair, “The LAC sees the CARS Mentor/Coach and Career Awareness projects as addressing some key issues identified in our strategic plan. We look forward to taking advantage of these national industry initiatives in our work as we seek to fulfill our mandate in the Ottawa area. We hope this local LAC activity will provide a model for others in the province.”

LAC members considered some of the rationale for supporting M/C training and qualifications:

Approximately 80% of apprenticeship training happens in the workplace, yet on-the-job trainers are not, unlike college faculty, required to have any training qualifications

Amateur hockey coaches are required to have some 75 hours of training before instructing kids in the sport, yet none is required for on-the-job trainers.

The raising of the Ontario Provincial Exam pass score to 70% will require more effective training

Technology has created a shift from single-step procedures to multi-step procedures requiring greater on-the-job trainer involvement

The dropout rate of apprentices is due in part to deficiencies in workplace training

The committee decided that there is a dire need, and a good case, for workplace M/C training. The Mentor/Coach Program has already had substantial success in Ottawa. Algonquin College is now on its third class of students for OC Transpo (see Oct 2001 CARS Insider), Ottawa’s regional transit authority.

Armed with the conviction of LAC Executive Gary Bourk who stated: “We have no choice, our industry needs this, we have to have this;” the LAC decided to showcase the program at its upcoming banquet and at the same time announce its intention to formally recognize workplace trainers that successfully complete the program at its future banquets. This year’s banquet attendees will also hear a presentation on the soon to be released Career Awareness Package.


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