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FAQs – Aboriginal Apprenticeship Board of Ontario

Apprenticeship FAQs

What is apprenticeship?
Apprenticeship is a learning process combining on the job experience and in-class training all while earning wages. As a type of post secondary education, apprenticeship is a three-way agreement between your employer, the provincial government and the apprentice.  Upon completion apprentices are awarded a Certificate of Qualification recognizing them as a journeyperson in their trade.

There are over 140 apprenticeship positions within four sectors: construction, industrial, motive power or services. Apprentices help to build schools, hospitals and landmarks. The sky is the limit with apprenticeship.

What does it mean to be an apprentice?
Becoming an apprentice means kick starting your future by combining theory with hands-on work experience to get out of the classroom and into the job force. Apprentices have the opportunity to feel the pride of shaping the world in which they live. Apprenticeship also means financial freedom since you earn while you learn and will continue to earn highly competitive wages as a journeyperson.

What is the apprenticeship process?
Apprenticeship can be outlined in five major steps.
Step 1: Choosing a trade
Choosing a trade begins by evaluating skills and interests and determining the trade that is most fulfilling.  Apprenticeship Coordinators can help potential apprentices to discover their hidden talents with personality and skill assessments. There are also online assessments that will help determine the best trade for the individual.
Step 2: Education
High school is a good time to start planning for an apprenticeship. High schools offer co-op programs to provide some basic skills and hands-on training in the skilled trades. The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program also offers students a chance to get a jump start on their apprenticeship.
Most post secondary institutions offer pre-apprenticeship training which offers basic skills essential for trades to individuals who have completed high school but are looking for some training before entering an apprenticeship,
It is best to have a Grade 12 but you can by get by with less depending on the trade area.  Employers prefer people with Grade 12 and apprentices with Grade 12 have more success in technical training.
Step 3: Employment
In order to enter an apprenticeship individuals must connect with an employer who is willing to sponsor them. Searching for an apprenticeship job is like any other, it’s time to start knocking on doors, making phone calls and sending out resumes. ASETS apprenticeship coordinators can help potential apprentices on their road to employment by connecting them with employers looking for apprentices. In addition to arranging contacts, apprenticeship coordinators can provide advice and tips on making it through the interview and beefing up resumes to make individuals more attractive to potential employers.
It is important to get experience in a trade. People usually work 3-6 months in a trade before getting apprenticed. During this time individuals evaluate their interest in the trade and other tradespeople are gauging their suitability to work in that trade.
Step 4: Registering 
Once an employer agrees to sponsor someone, the individual must register as an apprentice. The ASETS apprenticeship coordinator can arrange the paperwork with the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU) to set them up as an apprentice. Through the ASETS, the MTCU will provide the apprentice with a training schedule and arrange for in class training.
Step 5: The Learning Process
Now the apprentice is on the road to a prosperous career.  Throughout the apprenticeship the individual will learn hands-on skills as well as technical skills at an appropriate post secondary institution. The learning process continues until they have completed the requirements needed to receive journeyperson certification. Throughout this training the ASETS apprenticeship coordinator monitors training to ensure the apprentice is achieving the levels of training needed to receive their Certificate of Qualification.
Over 80% of learning is done on the job. Technical in–class training occurs during the apprenticeship.

What are the benefits of apprenticeship?
Learning, Earning and Experience: Working side-by-side with tradespeople who’ve experienced the ups and downs will help apprentices will get a real feel for the trade. Instead of just working in a job they are working, earning good wages, developing skills and respect and moving toward a goal, journey person status in their trade.
Demand: Apprenticeship is available among a range of sectors including construction, automotive work, and even many service industries. The options are endless and with a shortage of skilled workers in nearly all fields, apprentices are in high demand.
Pride: One of the greatest benefits for apprentices is the pride that comes with working with their hands on projects that will stand a lifetime. Knowing that they had a hand in building bridges and buildings, things that they can share with future generations is a pride like no other.
Travel: With skilled workers in demand across the country and even in the United States, apprentices have the opportunity to work towards a career that can lead them all over the world. From building sky scrapers in New York to a bridge in Vancouver or road work in Toronto, tradespeople have the opportunity to experience many different cities and countries all while earning great wages.
Wage: Unlike post secondary education where learning is consistently in class, apprentices have the opportunity to start their career all while learning important skills. Apprentices earn a percentage of a full journey person’s wage which increases each year of their learning. Wages help to offset the costs of in-class training ensuring that apprentices won’t be left with hefty loans that carry over into the future.
Camaraderie: Working side by side with seasoned journey persons, apprentices can’t help but feel a sense of belonging and brotherhood that comes with working in a trade. Knowing that they’re working as a team enhances their sense of unity.

What does it cost to be an apprentice?
The cost of apprenticeship varies from trade to trade but does require a $40 administration fee to register as an apprentice with the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. The registration fee is waived if you are participating in the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. Tuition for in-school technical training ranges from $200 – $800 per session depending on the trade and where you live. Sessions are eight weeks long and there are generally three to four sessions throughout your years of training. There is also a $100 fee to write the Certification of Qualification exam.
The wages you earn while receiving hands-on training can offset the cost of tuition, registration and miscellaneous fees like books and equipment. In some cases an employer may even cover all or some of the costs of tuition. If you are apprenticing through a union the union may also pay the tuition costs. Apprentices may also qualify for EI benefits during their in-school technical training sessions which can go towards paying the costs of tuition.
With the high demand for skilled tradespeople there are a number of grants and scholarships available to help those interested in apprenticeship.  Click here to see a list of Grants and Scholarships.

How long are you in training?
Training varies from trade to trade but generally an apprenticeship takes a minimum of three years incorporating on-the-job experience and 3-5 eight-week in-class training session. Whether an apprentice attends one day a week or weeks at a time will be determined by the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU). Training time may be reduced with completion of pre-apprenticeship courses, previous work experience or relevant education. Apprentices receive journeyperson status once they have successfully passed the provincial qualification exam for their trade and received a Certification of Qualification.

What education is required to become an apprentice?
The high school grade level required to enter an apprenticeship program varies from trade to trade and province to province. While some trades don’t require Grade 12 many employers prefer their apprentices have a high school diploma. Tradespeople require strong math, science and communications skills, all essential training received in high school. The minimum age for entering apprenticeship is 16.
High school students can actively start their apprenticeship careers through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). Through the program students can become registered apprentices and work towards certification in their trade while completing high school.
The Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program is another avenue which provides students with skills to aid their transition into apprenticeship.

What is OYAP?
OYAP is the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program which allows students 16 years of age to participate in apprenticeships while still working towards their high school diploma. OYAP places students in co-op environments to learn hands-on skills and get a real taste for skilled trades. For information about OYAP visit www.oyap.com.

What is the Ministry of Training Colleges and University (MTCU)?
The MTCU or Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities is the government ministry responsible for providing valuable programs and training opportunities to ensure we have a skilled workforce. In terms of apprenticeship the MTCU regulates apprenticeship and outlines the requirements and guidelines for apprenticeship.

Individuals must register with the MTCU to enter an apprenticeship program and a training consultant will set up their training schedule and determine at which post secondary institution they will receive training. Your training consultant will also ensure that the apprentice’s employer or sponsor has the guidelines which explain what skills the apprentice must have to receive their Certificate of Apprenticeship.
As well the training consultant will perform on-site visits to ensure that the apprentice’s training needs are being met and the workplace is safe.
The ASETS apprenticeship coordinator may take care of most of the apprentices dealings with the MTCU.

What is the involvement of the ASETS agreement holders?
Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) agreement holders are Aboriginal employment and training centres located across Canada. ASETS apprenticeship coordinators are responsible for recruiting and mentoring apprentices along their path to journeyperson status. An ASETS apprenticeship coordinator will help apprentices locate and contact potential employers, liaise with the MTCU to arrange apprenticeships and work with the apprentice at each step of the way to ensure a successful training process. For a list of ASETS locations and contacts click here.

Getting Started

Choosing a trade
Choosing a trade for apprenticeship involves assessing skills and interests. If someone is afraid of heights then trades like ironworking or jobs working on scaffolding might not be for them. There are more than 140 apprenticeable trades in Canada broken down into four categories: Automotive, Construction, Industrial and Services.  Begin by gathering an understanding of your talents, interests and abilities and then research various trades to find out which is the right fit. It’s also important to consider job opportunities when choosing a trade. People who are willing to travel likely won’t have a hard time finding work. However if the individual hopes to stay stationed in a small community they have to choose a trade with steady work in your area.

ASETS apprenticeship coordinators may be able to help potential apprentices with skills and personality assessments. These assessments will help them better understand themself and employment counsellors may be able to help identify specific trades that fit those skill sets.

If you are unsure about your trade choice, then start working in the industry and keep your eyes open, ask questions, build skills and you should discover a trade that is right for you. You often have to be hands on in a trade to know that it is a good fit for you.

Finding Employers
Getting started in apprenticeship involves firstly finding an employer who is willing to take you on and train you in the trade. An ASETS apprenticeship coordinator can link potential apprentices to employers. Apprenticeship coordinators can help people find and set up interviews with employers in their trade.

Apprenticeship jobs are rarely advertised but can also be found by contacting local unions. Unions often have posting boards advertising apprenticeship openings as well as applications to apply directly to the union for apprenticeship sponsorship. ASETSs and other employment resource centres may also have postings and can provide support and advice during job searches.

People who have completed a pre-apprenticeship program through a post secondary education institution, can speak with their counsellors or instructors who will also help navigate their job search and help find employers.

Potential apprentices are also able to apply directly to the employer. Networking is key with apprenticeship. Interested individuals should let everyone know they’re looking for a job and see if they can recommend a place and take down the names and numbers of employers so that they can check in occasionally in case they have an opening. Their persistence will also show potential employers their commitment to the trade making them more likely to remember them for a future opening. It’s also good to ask employers if they know of any companies that are hiring. They may know who’s won the latest bid on a project and will be looking for workers.

The same rules apply to apprenticeship jobs as any other job. A polite, courteous manner and appropriate dress will go a long way towards a good impression on your future employer. Potential apprentices should also remember that whether they offer you a job or not, be polite and thankful. Leaving a good impression on an employer who doesn’t have a position could lead that employer to recommend the individual  to another company who may have an opening.

Do potential apprentices need a resume?
Searching for an apprenticeship job is the same as any other job; individuals need a resume and cover letter to highlight their skills and experience. A resume is a piece of them that they can leave behind as a reminder of their specific talents. An employer may not have time for them to create a great first impression so highlighting all their skills clearly on their resume will do that for them.

What are employers looking for?
Employers are looking for employees who are willing to work and learn. They want to know that their employees are committed to doing a good job safely and efficiently. They are looking for enthusiastic people willing to give 100 per cent! Key characteristics like integrity, honesty, reliability, and commitment to hard work and safety are essential no matter what the trade. Individuals should tell employers what they can offer them and assure them that you will be a valuable asset to their company. Specific skills vary by trade but a commitment to learning the trade is important above all. Research the chosen trade to find out specific skills an employer might be looking for.

What tools, clothes, boots or knowledge are required?
Again, specific supplies vary from trade to trade. Employers will make sure the apprentice knows what equipment will be needed to work.  They can also research their chosen trade to find out the general equipment guidelines.

How do individuals get started without any experience?
People don’t need to be experienced to enter an apprenticeship. However if a person is interested in gaining experience while waiting for a position, job shadowing tradespeople can be a good way to get a feel for a specific trade. Individuals can also look for jobs related to their field of interest. For instance if they want a job in the automotive industry why not start working as a mechanic’s assistant or work in a parts store to become more familiar with all the bits and pieces that go into automobiles.

If you have not yet graduated, many high schools offer pre-apprenticeship courses which provide students with essential skills which may help them stand out when doing their job search. Most high schools also offer coop programs where you earn credits while gaining valuable experience within your chosen field.
Post secondary institutions also offer one and two year skilled trades courses which teach  the basics of the chosen trade. While these courses are optional they may make potential apprentices stand out to employers and will give them first hand knowledge of what to expect when they get on the job.

Do I need training to get a job?
That depends on the employer but generally no, most apprentices start without skills. Some employers prefer their apprentices to be clean slates and learn their skills directly from them. Others may want someone with more experience and additional training may make them stand out to an employer. ASETS apprenticeship coordinators can help individuals explore their options and may be able to set them up with a pre-apprenticeship program.

What are the wages?
Apprenticeship wages vary from trade to trade and depend on location but generally apprentices earn a percentage of a journeyperson’s wage which increases each year of their apprenticeship until they receive their Certificate of Qualification and make journey person wages. To find salary ranges for specific trades visit the Job Futures http://www.jobfutures.ca website.

How can an apprentice stay employed?
Apprentices and aspiring apprentices should work hard and show their crew and employer that they have what it takes to make it in their trade. Employers want good learners who take pride in their job and come to work every day ready to work. If they prove themself employers will notice.
An apprentice’s reputation will follow them so they should build and keep a good one.

Employers talk and crew members talk so remember it’s important to keep up a good work ethic and work well as part of a team. On construction crews people must rely on one another to do their job correctly and safely. If you don’t work well you compromise the whole team and you will stand out in a bad way. This behavior is remembered and may be passed on to future employers through references or word of mouth.

Getting Apprenticed

Who can apprentice me?
Generally apprenticeship sponsors are employers such as construction contractors or repair shop owners. In order to be eligible to sponsor an apprentice an employer or union must be approved by the MTCU and show that they are capable of providing training. But employers aren’t the only ones who can sponsor an apprentice. Union members in construction trades are always apprenticed. Union apprenticeship training committees will take on new apprentices. Potential apprentices should consider applying to them when looking for employment.

If someone is working in a trade, when should they get apprenticed?
The decision is up to the individual but apprentices have been proven to learn faster and make it to journeyperson status faster than those who learn trades other ways. Certain trades also require that people working in them be either certified journey persons or registered apprentices. Trades like electrician or alignment and brakes technician are restricted to journeypersons or apprentices. Other trades like carpenters or welders however are not restricted. If an individual is already working in a trade their work experience may also count towards the hours needed to complete apprenticeship training. An MTCU training consultant can clarify this.

If my employer won’t apprentice someone what should they do?
While apprenticeship does not demand much cost from an employer it does demand time and resources.  If an employer is struggling with the idea you could remind him/her of Ontario’s Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit which provides employers a refundable tax credit for employing apprentices in certain skilled trades during the first 36 months of their program. If the employer simply does not support apprenticeship you may be able to find another employer who will or see if the union will sponsor the individual.ASETS apprenticeship coordinators can put people  in contact with employers who are looking for apprentices.

Who will do the training?

On-the-job training is done by qualified journeypersons at the apprentice’s place of employment.  The ratio of journeypersons to apprentices is often one to one but it can be one journeyperson to up to three apprentices depending on availability.

Where do I get more information?
Visit the Links section for more valuable sources of apprenticeship information.

What happens after an apprenticeship is complete?
A journeyperson can expect to be fully employed, and well paid as a respected member of their industry. Many people remain working as journey persons for their entire career.

Experienced journeypersons are continually learning and developing skills in their industry. Career moves into foreman and  supervisory positions with higher wages, challenges and responsibility provide many advancement opportunities.

Apprenticeship is a doorway to many opportunities. Once valuable skills have been gathered a journeyperson can choose to continue their training to expand into even more sectors of your trade. They can use their skills as a base for Technological or Engineering training at universities or colleges, start their own business or find employers all over the world and earn while they fill their passport. Skilled workers are in demand creating millions of opportunities.

What is Red Seal certification?
Red Seal certification is the highest standard of qualification recognized across Canada alerting employers in all provinces and territories that you have completed the requirements to be certified to work anywhere in Canada.  . In order to receive the Red Seal certification people must pass the InterProvincial Standards examination. Certain trades are not available for Red Seal certification so visit the websitewww.red-seal.ca for a complete list of Red Seal trades.