NORTH BAY, Ont. – The first ever graduating class of Canadore College’s pre-apprenticeship truck and coach technician program celebrated its graduation this month.
The program was a product of Canadore College’s proposal to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development Pre-Apprenticeship Training early last year.
Some of the graduates of Canadore College’s pre-apprenticeship truck and coach technician program.
“In 2015 we decided to write a proposal geared to First Nations and any other indigenous students interested in taking a pre-apprenticeship program in truck and coach,” said Judy Manitowabi, manager of community based and contract training in Canadore College’s First Peoples’ Centre. “We were successful in the proposal and our students started the program in April 2016.”
The program was in partnership with Wikwemikong Unceded Territory and was designed to help students learn how to inspect, repair and maintain commercial trucks and other vehicles like buses and ambulances. Normally, the program would have 240 hours of in-class training, but the college extended it to 380 hours.
“Only because these were students who had no experience at all being a truck or coach technician,” Manitowabi explained. “So we added more hours to the program.”
All those hours paid off as a total of 10 students graduated the program on December 10 and more than half of the students have already secured full time employment, according to Manitowabi. The majority of the students who took and graduated the program lived in First Nations communities on Manitoulin Island.
The program ran from April – November 2016 and the certifications the students received on graduation is matched with a level 1 apprenticeship training, which eliminates the need for employer release time.
According to Manitowabi, the program generated a lot of positive feedback from the students.
“What we heard a lot was that they liked the hands-on aspect of the program and getting down and dirty with the trucks the most,” she said. “Also, the professors…often times they can make or break the program and we had great professors that definitely made the program.”
“We are so proud of our graduates,” she added. “Many of them had to move out here to take the program, so they gave up a lot but they did it.”
Because the program was a product of a call for proposal by the ministry, it won’t be available next year, but Manitowabi hopes it will run in 2018, if the industry demands more technicians.