The Challenge

While Ontario has its own issues, it’s very important to have an understanding of the roles and problems with apprenticeship throughout Canada in order to best fit, Ontario apprenticeship into a mobile trade.

There are five real issues facing apprenticeship in Canada:

  • Average Age of Apprentices
  • Non-completion rate and over recruiting
  • Single, specialized employers make broad-based training difficult to achieve for many apprentices
  • Formal training and/or work experience is not recognized
  • Training standards do not reflect emerging technologies.

Average Age of Apprentices

The average age for individuals traveling the apprenticeship path in Canada is between 25 and 30. It can be concluded therefore that the primary purpose of apprenticeship is to provide an avenue of re-entry into the training or education system. It is a means by which individuals without post-secondary training, often without an affinity for classroom-based learning can get back into the training system to make significant investment in their skills and long-term employability.

Apprenticeship in Canada for the most part has not been a means of transition from school to work for young people.

Non-Completion Rate and Over Recruiting

Many apprentices have young families and financial obligations and consequently; if work cannot be secured within a reasonable amount of time, apprenticeships are abandoned.

It is counter-productive to recruit more apprentices that can be employed and thus, a commitment to planning is necessary. The following should help effective long-term planning:

  • demand for skilled labour over the next 5 to 19 years;
  • overall economy and large scale development projects;
  • anticipated exit rates based on retirement or withdrawal;
  • current skilled labour shortages by region; and
  • mobility within a region or province.

Specialized Employers and Broad-based Training

Apprenticeship represents practical and broadly based training. This type of training is fundamental to apprenticeships and is also one of the justifications for the length of time required to qualify in a trade.

Contrary to the above statement, survey work for national trade studies report nearly two-thirds of apprentices work for only one employer. Apprentices who confine their learning to one employer can be expected to fail the test of skill breadth due to specialization of employers in the industry.

Formal Training and/or Work Experience in Not Recognized

Apprenticeship and college-based training [technicians or technologists] in most instances are provided by distinct entities with little chance of “cross training” being recognized by the other.

A non-restrictive path between apprenticeship training and college-based training would significantly improve the image of the skilled trades and support long-term career mobility.

Training Standards Do Not Reflect Emerging Technologies

Apprenticeship training has great focus on ‘across-the-board’ training standards, however little attention has been placed on emerging technology and/or emerging skill sets. Contrarily, this reality is not nearly as detrimental to technicians or technologists receiving a college education.