He’s Not Just Your Average College Kid

by Ingrid Phaneuf

SCARBOROUGH, Ont. – Paul “Kiddo” Finnie didn’t want a desk job.

So he traded in the undergraduate business degree he was working on for a truck technician’s certificate instead.

Now, at the tender age of 23, he’s running the overnight shift at OK Transportation’s maintenance shop in Scarborough, Ont.

All thanks to the apprenticeship training he received at OK Transportation, in cooperation with the truck technician certification program offered through Centennial College.

It all started a little over four years ago, when Finnie approached OK fleet manager Bill Dinino (2002 winner of the Volvo Fleet Maintenance Manager of the Year Award) and asked him if he would consider taking him on.

“I didn’t want to sit behind a desk, and I was already working around the shop part-time,” says Finnie, whose father is a salesman for OK.

“I told him (Dinino) I needed a sponsor to get into school and he agreed to take me on.”

Dinino, who says he isn’t easily impressed, says the decision to take Paul on was a no-brainer.

“He’d already impressed me,” says Dinino.

“Every time I gave him a list of things to do, he’d do them. I didn’t have to chase after him.”

The apprenticeship program, which Finnie has now completed, consists of 9,000 hours with an employer, plus three in-class sessions of eight weeks each (or one day of class time per week for three years).

The salaries of apprentices in social assistance programs are subsidized.

But such was not the case with Finnie, who wasn’t on social assistance and who opted to attend classes and work at the same time (sometimes on the same day) because it gave him more immediate hands-on experience.

His work ethic and willingness to take on any task soon singled him out as a technician with a future at OK, says Dinino.

“Succession is an issue when it comes to finding good maintenance technicians, and Paul has shown himself to be willing and able to take on anything. He doesn’t shy away from diagnostics and he’s shown he has leadership ability,” says Dinino.

That’s why Finnie has quickly graduated to being made responsible for OK’s new overnight shift, Dinino says.

“I thought it would take me years to advance if I didn’t take the opportunity,” says Finnie.

Dinino, for his part, says Finnie is definitely going places.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as a maintenance manager when I’m gone,” he hints.

Does that mean Finnie will end up behind the desk – the situation he was trying to avoid in the first place?

Definitely not, says Dinino.

“This job is definitely one where you have to get out on the floor,” he says.

Be that as it may, OK Transportation continues to take on technician apprentices, in the hopes of preventing a shortage of technicians in the future.

“It’s really a problem,” points out Dinino. “The industry knows it. But if people don’t do anything about it, by taking on apprentices, we’re going to be in trouble down the road.”

Dinino is an enthusiastic promoter of the apprenticeship program, also strongly supported by the Automotive Transportation Service (operator of the Canadian Fleet Maintenance Seminar).

To find out more about the truck and coach technician apprenticeship program, contact Centennial College’s School of Transportation at 416-289-5000 (ext. 7310).

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