Ontario Construction News staff writer
Co-op students in Ontario are working alongside skilled tradespeople to build semi-detached homes as part of a unique partnership that provides real world construction experience and high school credits, while raising funds for a local hospital.
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of Strathroy Middlesex General Hospital Foundation, the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc, and Holy Cross Secondary School, our students are learning the skills they need for well-paying and life-long careers in the skilled trades,” Ontario labour minister Monte McNaughton said in late April at a ground-breaking ceremony for the Building Foundations Project.
Home Build Program students in the Construction Technology Co-Op Education Program at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School in Strathroy-Caradoc are building two semi-detached homes that will be put up for sale once complete, with proceeds to support the foundation and the purchase of diagnostic imaging equipment for the Strathroy Middlesex Hospital.
“The course is an amazing opportunity for students to gain knowledge in multiple trade disciplines,” said Mike Stevenson, Holy Cross department head technology/co-op. “This allows students to make a more informed choice on which trade they would like to pursue in the future.”
The Home Build Program is a four-credit package made up of two technology credits and two cooperative education credits. All students enrolled in the program will also be enrolled in the Specialist High Skills Major program which allows students to focus on a career path that matches their skills and interests while meeting the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Students, who will receive an SHSM seal on their diploma when they graduate, can also earn certifications including working at heights, first aid and CPR.
After spending the first four weeks of the semester in-class, students in the program then move to the job site where they spend the entire day working with employers from across various trades with their classroom teacher on site.
“The Home Build allowed me to get enough experience to get my OYAP Level 1 at Fanshawe (College) for carpentry,” said a former Holy Cross technology student who identified himself As Jason. “I now have the first level of my apprenticeship completed and I’ve only just graduated (from high school).”
The Building Foundations Project is an initiative and partnership between the SMGH Foundation, the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc, and the construction technology students at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School.
The students work with the general contractor, J F Homes to construct the homes to be built on lots donated to the SMGH Foundation by the municipality. Community partners providing support include JF Home Construction, Moffatt & Powell RONA, Synergy Realty, Brandon Home Designs, AGM, Rostenberg Welding, Signs and Design, Clark-Haasen Electric, Premier Heating and Cooling, Redding Designs and Milwaukee Tool.
“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with J F Homes, the students at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School, and the Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc,” Susan McLean, SMGH Foundation CEO said in a statement.
“This project has been a long-term vision of the foundation and we are excited to see it moving forward.”