Friday, May 13, 2005

Building for the future

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2005.05.13
PNAME: City Editorial
SOURCE: Ottawa Citizen


Building for the future


A program that has South Carleton High School students learning home-building skills is heartening on a number of fronts.

For starters, it's a near-perfect example of what can be accomplished when the resources of our educational funding bodies -- in this case the $7-million Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program -- are coupled with those of individual schools and an engaged private sector.

It all started when South Carleton principal Barrie Hammond learned he had been awarded an apprenticeship program grant to teach building trades.

Mr. Hammond turned to the Ottawa Home Builders' Association for help, the Home Builders put him onto Urbandale Construction, and Urbandale came up with both a building site and a "teacher" in the form of newly retired employee John Martel.

That's the way it should work: a seamless integration of public and private resources in service of educational goals.

And the goal of exposing students to the building trades is a laudable one.

The oft-repeated mantra that a university education is necessary for a successful career is simply not true. Many students are not academically inclined, and trades offer a valid and high-paying alternative to white-collar employment.

Most gratifying of all, the program appears to be developing not only skills, but character. In the span of a few weeks, Mr. Martel says his youthful crew has learned discipline, respect and teamwork, and have "gone from school kids to adults."

How can you argue with that?


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