Gabriella De Sousa, from Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School at her apprenticeship last year for Monarch Group.

Scarborough students find success through apprenticeships

While most Toronto high school students may be worried about their academic future, officials Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School believe students can still succeed.

The Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB) latest census showed that 73 per cent of Toronto high school students are unsure about their future.  It’s an issue many Toronto parents and teachers are not taking lightly.

Some students feel they don’t have an opportunity for academic success and are undecided on post-secondary education.

Mary Ward Catholic Secondary School Co-op business teacher Sandra Pezzetta, believes apprenticeships give students the tools to build a great career.

“Apprenticeships have the ability to change a person’s personality. It makes them want to work, and I have never seen a student that hasn’t come out successful,” Pezzetta said.

Although Mary Ward’s apprenticeship program has been successful, many Scarborough high schools do not offer similar programs in providing information on alternatives to college/university.

“Kids will go anywhere there is work. They are not particularly interested in university or college and want to know what else is out there,” Pezzetta said.

Nuala Kelly, owner of apartment and housing company Kalli Management Ltd., has been apart of Mary Ward’s apprenticeship program for 10 years.  She says as a business owner she understands how important it is to give students the experience, but as a parent she can’t help the development of an emotional attachment.

“I got involved because my son was at Mary Ward and expressed interest in an air conditioning apprenticeship. I thought it was a great idea and I gave it to Mary Ward,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s company offers several apprenticeships, but it’s her chef apprenticeship that is getting the most attention.

“I’ve had about eight kids from Mary Ward get involved in the chef apprenticeship over the years. I feel like it’s not enough to just have the student come in and wash dishes because they won’t learn that way,” Kelly said. “All the students involved in the program have come out successful, some even working in big name chain restaurants.”

Kelly says Scarborough needs to offer the work experience to students and that employers need to take a chance.

“Schools need to promote apprenticeships more through presentations, fairs, parent-teacher night, and of course using the media to advertise,” Kelly said. “The reality is that you can’t just fill space and time with a job. The students need to have passion and enjoy what they do, and that is something that can only be taught through experience.”