Apprenticeship program helps turn interest in motor sports into full-time career

Certified Marine and Outdoor Power Equipment Technician, Justin Slegers.
Certified Marine and Outdoor Power Equipment Technician, Justin Slegers.

Justin Slegers has always been interested in motor sports, and he enjoys working with his hands. A few years ago, he saw a presentation about Apprenticeship Manitoba’s new Marine and Outdoor Power Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program, starting in September of 2009 at Red River College.
Slegers realized he might be able to turn a hobby into a full-time career – and after discussing the apprenticeship opportunity with his parents, he decided to enroll.
Fast forward to 2013, and Slegers was certified as a Marine and Outdoor Power Equipment Technician. Not only was Justin one of the first to receive his journeyperson certification in the trade, but he also had the highest marks in his class and received Apprenticeship Manitoba’s Highest Achievement Award.
“I wanted to make everyone around me happy,” says Slegers. “I wanted to impress my employer as they were sponsoring me and sending me to school. I was learning and getting paid to be there while bettering my future.”
While Slegers has always been enthusiastic toward the motor sports industry and had done some minor work on engines before entering the program, he credits his success and the knowledge he gained to his instructor Mark Blackner, and his sponsor employer, Luke’s Town Services, who mentored him over the three-year program.
Slegers continues to learn every day by keeping up with the new products in the shop. “Every day is different, which is the best part of the job as I never get bored,” he says. “The work is not very repetitive, especially once you get up to my level. I do a lot of on-the-job problem solving and this keeps me challenged.”
Slegers gives back to the apprenticeship program by mentoring other apprentices including his brother, who recently completed level one of the trade. “I encourage everyone to enter the trade, go to school and get their ticket,” says Slegers.
Marine and Outdoor Power Equipment Technicians repair, service and maintain small gasoline- and diesel-powered equipment such as outboard and inboard motors, jet drives in boats and personal watercraft, lawn and garden equipment, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.
The apprenticeship is three years, consisting of three levels. Approximately 80 per cent of the time is spent learning practical, on-the-job skills under the supervision of a journeyperson through a sponsoring employer; 20 per cent is spent learning the theoretical and technical aspects of the trade through in-school training.
The program is offered by Apprenticeship Manitoba in partnership with Red River College. For more information on apprenticeship and the Marine and Outdoor Power Equipment Technician trade, visit Apprenticeship Manitoba online at http://www.manitoba.ca/tradecareers.
-Apprenticeship Manitoba

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