As young people consider the wealth of post-secondary choices available to them, it makes good sense to consider apprenticeship as a viable option. An apprenticeship is a unique form of work-based training, with 80 to 85 percent of the training done on-the-job with an employer and the rest completed as  school-based technical training. Apprenticeship programs are typically four years long, leading to trade certification.

What are the benefits?

Apprentices are employees doing work valued by their employer. They earn a wage as they develop new skills and very few graduate with student debt. In fact, many are buying houses and cars well before their friends. Apprenticeships provide opportunities to develop trade-specific skills in the workplace with guidance from a certified tradesperson. At the same time, workplace skills like teamwork, communication, and meeting deadlines are learned and developed. When an apprentice is certified, their qualifications include both the skills and relevant work experience required by today’s job market.
The benefits to apprentices are obvious: they earn while they learn, developing trade-specific and transferable employment skills. Certification can be the starting point for supervisory, management, or entrepreneurial opportunities. Tradespeople are in high demand in all parts of Canada and around the world.

Meanwhile, the benefits to business are also substantial. Research from CAF indicates that apprenticeships contribute to enhanced business performance, greater productivity, and a workforce that meets the needs and culture of the organization. Skilled trades employers across Canada report that there is a financial return on their investment in apprentices — for every dollar they spend, there is an average return of $1.47.

Why you should hire a trained apprentice. Video: Canadian Apprenticeship Forum

Considering the skilled trades?

There are over 300 skilled trades, ranging from bricklayer to boilermaker, crane operator to cook, plumber to power line technician. If apprenticeship is a route that you or somebody you know may be considering, here are some tips:

  • Spend some time with a tradesperson Learn what the job entails by asking questions and, if possible, by shadowing someone on-the-job. Many students start something, only to be disappointed when they realize that the job isn’t what they expected.

  • Try a trade There are many opportunities to try your hand at a variety of trades, whether at a career event or your local college. Trades exploration courses and camps let you try a number of trades to see what works best for you.

  • Learn about the certification process Talk to someone at your local apprenticeship office to learn about the registration and certification processes. Certified tradespeople are better paid and are more likely to be working full-time than those who don’t receive their certification.