Carpentry Co-op Helps Students Earn Credits Outside the Classroom

A new partnership between the public school board and Carpenter's District Council of Ontario will give students a chance to work with their hands while earning school credits.

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The new co-op program created by the Greater Essex County District School Board and Local 494 will place students age 16 and older with contractors where they'll learn basic skills and health and safety training.
Jonathan Norcliffe is one of three students who started in the program in September. "I think it's really fun because we get to do a bunch of stuff, going on lifts and all," he said, adding he wasn't sure which career he wanted to pursue but the program has helped him appreciate the trades.

That's exactly the type of impact Vicki Houston, superintendent of education and student success for the board is hoping the co-op will have.

"We know there's great interest from our students to be in a hands-on trade and learn those skills," she explained. "We also know there's a demand in industry … so here's an opportunity for the young ones and learn from those that are getting ready to retire." Houston added the program is a good fit for students who are interested in construction and learning by gaining experience in the workplace.

The superintendent also said it should set young people up with a promising career path.

"We know there's a demand, with the mega-hosptial coming and all the other potential building that will be happening in the city and Essex County there's a demand for workers, so this is an effort for us to help meet that demand."