Thanks to a co-op placement in high school, Julian Sanders is a fully-licenced, Honda certified mechanic with full-time employment, and he’s 20 years old.
Sanders was a Grade 10 student at Jean Vanier Catholic High School in Collingwood when he learned about the co-operative education program and decided to give it a try.
He has loved cars since childhood and had already started working on his family cars by then. He was hired on the spot at Blue Mountain Honda.
Sanders completed two semesters of half-day placements and one semester of full-day placement at the local Honda garage before graduating high school. Once graduated, his managers helped him enroll in an accelerated licensing program and offered him a full-time job at the end.
“The co-op placement helped me decide on my career,” said Sanders. “It was a great experience and there were great learning opportunities.”
In addition to the placement days in the shop at Honda, Sanders’ in-class learning included skills such as resume building and writing cover letters.
“I learn more with my hands for sure,” said Sanders. “I would have ended up somewhere in the automotive business, but this got me started. It got my foot in the door.”
While in trade school, Sanders also received grants for his tools, his textbooks, and some bonuses for keeping his grades up. He was also allowed to claim EI benefits.
He finished school with no debt.
Dayn Kramp, service manager at Blue Mountain Honda said the local dealership has been working with the co-operative education program for several years. They always have one student in the garage on a placement.
“The value is huge,” said Kramp. “As an industry we have to be promoting young individuals to pursue this trade. A lot of technicians are retiring or getting out of the trade. There’s value in nurturing and promoting these kinds of opportunities.”
In Sanders’ case, doing three co-op placements at Honda, and also taking the Honda specialized course has made him an early expert in Honda’s mechanics and technology.
“No one has excelled quite like Julian has,” he said.
Typically students in the co-op placement will start with light duties as they learn about mechanics and shop safety.
“We try to get them as much experience on the mechanical side as we can,” said Kramp. “As their comfort level increases, their skillset grows.”
Both Kramp and Sanders recommend co-op placements for students in high school.
“If they know what they want to do and want to be 100 per cent sure, they should do a co-op,” said Sanders. “You can make a decision early on and you get to experience it.”
In Kramp’s view, the benefit for the employer and student is equally valuable.
“Don’t skip a co-op opportunity,” he said. “Whether you’re on the fence about something or not, the benefit is to see if you’re interested or not. In Julian’s case, it gave him a head start.”
Both Collingwood Collegiate Institute and Jean Vanier Catholic High School have co-operative education programs available for students and employers.