Scholarship gears grad up for the auto trade
COURTENAY — Eighteen-year-old Brandon Rumley is working his way toward Red Seal endorsement as an auto service technician.
And the Ministry of Education is helping him get there with a $1,000 Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) scholarship.
Rumley, who graduated from Georges P. Vanier Secondary School last year, is a Level 2 apprentice at Canadian Tire. The only SSA scholarship winner in School District 71 for last year, he says he will use the SSA scholarship to buy tools, “for sure.”
SSA is a career program that provides students with the opportunity to begin an apprenticeship while still in high school and to earn credits toward graduation for doing so.
It provides a smoother transition from school to work and a quicker route to certification in a trade — and to the earning power that goes with it, explained Randy Grey, School District 71’s career programs co-ordinator.
SSA is open to students in Grade 10-12 who are motivated to gain hands-on training in a designated trade.
Students complete up to 480 hours of work experience that count toward their apprenticeship and course credits.
Students are eligible for the SSA scholarship if, after graduation, they continue in the trade for at least five months or accumulate 1,100 hours and maintain a C+ average in Grade 12 courses.
At Canadian Tire, Rumley is getting experience in the automotive industry and learning how a shop is run while doing work such as changing tires and doing oil changes.
While Rumley was still in high school, Grey set him up with two weeks of unpaid work experience at Canadian Tire.
“It was good because I got to see how the shop was run,” he said.
Rumley didn’t have his licence at the time, but after he earned his licence last October, he received a call from Canadian Tire’s former automotive service manager and was offered a job.
He worked after school, cleaning up the shop, for about three months until the beginning of February last year.
Rumley started in the ACE IT (Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training) program and received his Auto Service Tech Level 1 training at Highland Secondary School.
Through the ACE IT program, students go to school four days a week and have work experience every Friday, and Rumley spent his Fridays at Canadian Tire until the end of Grade 12.
“Once I started SSA, I started getting more into these guys getting me more experience and getting me to do more stuff, and I started doing oil changes,” he said.
Rumley feels a lot of job satisfaction in his work at Canadian Tire.
“I’m able to think for myself,” he said. “I get a job, and I’m able to figure out my job. It’s nice.”
Dan Shoemaker, Canadian Tire’s automotive service manager, thinks the SSA and ACE IT models work well.
“When I ran a shop in Ontario, that’s the only way I did it, brought kids in from high school,” he said. “That’s the only way you can get good technicians is grow them. They learn from the mechanics in the shop how the shop runs. You find out in the work experience if they’re worth putting money into training.”
Rumley says the SSA program has been a good eye opener.
He wants to earn his Red Seal, and he feels going through SSA and ACE IT has been helpful.