Marine Industry High School Pilot Project Kickoff

Pilot Project Brett Ramsey

Apr 24, 2023
Brett Ramsey speaking to students at Athens District High School

A major point of discussion in the marine industry recently is the issue facing the shortage of the younger demographic in professional roles. There’s a strong need for this issue to be addressed but the question is, where to start?

Wendy and Brett Ramsey have been working in the marine industry for years. They’ve both had key roles at Pirate Cove Marina and RBK Distribution.

About a year ago, they started working on an impactful pilot project that has recently launched this spring. The whole idea around this initiative is to bring more young people into the marine industry. “The initiative all started because I wanted to use co-op money to send people to school,” said Wendy Ramsey. “And then I got frustrated.”

When the covid-19 pandemic emerged, the Ramsey’s faced barrier after barrier trying to use their funds to help individuals go to school due to all the restrictions. After facing so much uncertainty, they took matters into their own hands.  

The Ramsey’s are starting this initiative in four Eastern Ontario high schools. Most students this age are unaware of the opportunities that exist in the marine industry and it’s important for them to be informed. In Ontario by grade 10, students require a general idea of what they want to do when they graduate. The grade 11 and 12 courses that they choose have a big impact.

Not only do the Ramsey’s want to address the need for marine technicians, but also the need for service providers, marketing roles, sales personnel and more. “Any way to bring people into the industry, as long as they land in it,” says Brett Ramsey.

Pilot Project Brett Ramsey

The students were able to observe demonstrations from old marine parts that were brought in for the interactive presentation

April 17th was the kickoff to their pilot project. Athens District High School was the first visit where Brett gave an interactive presentation to students from grades 9, 10, 11 and 12. It was fantastic, and they received lots of questions from the older students while the younger students sat and listened to the session.

They brought in some beat up props, a lower unit gear case and a power head. That way the students were able to see demonstrations and do some hands-on learning to observe the working parts and valves moving.

They did a Q&A with the students near the end of the session and learned that some of them are already doing co-op placements in welding, heavy equipment and in the electrical industry. There are also students that are already on their way to an apprenticeship in welding, carpentry, diesel mechanics and large equipment. But there was no mention of anyone pursuing the marine industry.

It’s extremely important to let these students know that co-op is available in the marine sector as well. As the Ramsey’s take this project to more schools, it’s their goal to entice the students about the marine lifestyle and to convert them over to the marine business.

Following the in-school presentations, the next part of the pilot project will be when the boating season kicks off. The Ramsey’s have been working with Boating Ontario to help interested students get involved with marinas, dealerships or other marine businesses nearby. Through field trips, co-ops and employment positions for the upcoming season, they’re working to get students introduced to these businesses in person.

Athens District Highschool“This spring is the just the pilot. It’ll guide us on what do we need to do to refine it, to make it broader, to make it better,” says Brett Ramsey. The goal is to get this project in high schools across all of Ontario within the next school year starting in September.

The second part and more long-term aspect to this initiative, is to incorporate a Level 1 Marine Technician course in different areas. Making the Level 1 course more accessible to individuals across the province and country is very important so that it’s not limited to one location.  

The Ramsey’s have been working closely with the Ministry of Labour and marine companies such as Mercury and Yamaha to help develop the next stage of this project.

We will be closely following this initiative and will provide updates as the project progresses.

You can read more about Wendy’s career path HERE and Brett’s career path HERE.

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