The Ontario Marine Operators Association (OMOA) presented Fenelon Falls Secondary School, Fenelon Falls, ON, with a cheque for $1,000 at the Toronto International Boat Show in January. The presentation was made in appreciation of the high school's support in addressing the skills shortage issue through its Power Sports and Recreational Marine Technology program.
“We will probably buy a boat trailer with the money,” said Peter Muir, Fenelon Falls' program director for the Power Sports and Recreational Marine Technology program. “We quite often need to go and pick up boats that need repair.”
The school staff and 39 students from its marine technology program attended the presentation along with representatives from Georgian College, the OMOA and the Ontario Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities. At the Toronto boat show booth where the presentation was made, students from Georgian College's Marine Engine Mechanic program demonstrated reassembling a marine engine. After the cheque presentation, the high school students spoke with Georgian College Midland Campus students and instructors to learn more about the one-year Marine Engine Mechanic program offered by the college.
Muir, who developed the marine technology program he now teaches at the high school, instructs approximately 120 students a year in his program.
“Primarily I teach the repair and operation of outboards, sterndrives, fibreglass repair, snowmobile and dirt bike mechanics as well as restoration of boats,” said Muir. “My students are very interested in the recreational power sports industry as am I. I owned a very successful marine business in Toronto before I started teaching 25 years ago. My passion has been to establish a pathway from secondary school into the industry via a college program, which we have found at Georgian.”
In June of 2008, students from the high school visited Georgian College's Midland campus to tour the Victor and Hazel Carpenter Recreational Boating Centre of Excellence. According to Brian Allen, the OMOA's manager – skills development program, by the end of the visit 10 students from the high school expressed a desire to enter the Marine Engine Mechanic program.
The OMOA's 5×10 initiative has the goal of getting 500 students enrolled in marine industry training programs by 2010.
“If we could find 10 schools like this,” said Allen, “we'd be set.”