Georgian College Announces Marine Mechanic Apprenticeship Program Dates

Following approval from the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU), Georgian College's Midland, ON campus has announced the dates for its marine mechanic apprenticeship training programs for the 2008/2009 academic year.

Located in The Victor and Hazel Carpenter Recreational Boating Centre of Excellence that opened in 2007, the facility's 9,300-square feet of classroom and shop space includes a multi-station test tank area, as well as Mercury and Volvo corporate training areas.

The eight-week program is offered at three levels and devised for marine employees to obtain their marine mechanical technician license. While Level One began August 5, running to September 26, Level Two is scheduled for February 9, 2009 and ends April 3. Level three is held from November 24 to January 30, 2009, which runs longer due to the Christmas holiday season. Each program entails 24 to 30 hours of instruction per week.

“Our (marine) programs are supported by the industry's manufactures,” says Brent Belford, program co-ordinator at Georgian College's Midland Campus. “This gives us up-to-date training aids and quality equipment to train our students.”

Brian Allen, the OMOA's manager – skills development program, explained an apprentice working towards their marine mechanic licence is required to complete 4,280 hours, which entails approximately two to three years of employee training and 720 hours of in-school training. Once a student completes all three levels of apprenticeship training and worked the required hours, they are required to take a final exam administered by the MTCU.

For non-licensed, long-time marine mechanic employees who already have several years of work experience, an exemption exam (administered by the MTCU) can be taken in lieu of having to complete the required in-school hours, prior to taking the marine mechanic licence exam. The MTCU would also require the person's employer to provide proof of hours worked.

Al Donaldson, executive director of the Ontario Marine Operators Association (OMOA), described the centre as “going a long way towards reaching the 5×10 initiative” of having 500 new students enrolled in marine industry training programs by 2010.

The facilities are already home to the college's one-year Mechanical Techniques Marine Engine Mechanic (MTME) and Mechanical Techniques Small Engine Mechanic (MTSE) programs. Graduates of these programs may also qualify to be exempt from level one of the program and go straight into level two.

“The first year apprenticeship session (level one) is similar to the one-year MTSE course, with the understanding the apprentice has some practical experience from the industry and needs to understand the theory component,” said Belford. “This is why one can skip the first-year session if they have taken the post secondary program since it has given them the theory component, and also some practical hands-on experience. The second and third [levels two and three] are more advanced and prepare the apprentice with more training to advance to more responsibilities at work, which also means a higher wage.”

While the Recreational Boating Centre's facilities are a positive step towards increasing the number of new technicians, the marine skills shortage is still a concern for many industry members in Canada. According to Allen, part of the challenge of getting more support for the programs has been finding convenient times for marinas and dealers to part with their staff and allow them the time to be trained. Completing all three tiers of training requires approximately six months.

“We have an on-going industry education program,” said Allen. “We are informing all of our members about the various training options available, which include the post secondary certificate and apprenticeship program, as well as the incentives that are also available to both employees and employers.”

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