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Apprenticeships: The Key to Learning a Trade

by Melissa Small

Having a career in the skilled trades can be very rewarding as there are more than 200 trades to choose from in Canada and you have lots of opportunities to learn as your career develops. And, being an apprentice is a great way to start your career because you get on-the-job experience and in-school training while you earn a living and often with no previous experience required!

As with any job search, reviewing your skills, interests and values, and being aware of your local labour market’s needs are key to discovering which job is best for you. To determine what trades are needed in your area, check out the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) website at www.collegeoftrades.ca. OCOT is the regulatory body that completes apprenticeship registrations and collects journeyman fees to support people within the trades.

Participating in pre-apprenticeship training may help you zero in and explore a trade that you are interested in, while helping you gain valuable skills to secure a position as an apprentice with an employer. You will find pre-apprenticeship training programs at approved training institutes and colleges www.ontariocolleges.ca across Ontario.

Once you have selected your trade, you can begin to search for an employer willing to hire an apprentice with your skills, interests and enthusiasm. Job search websites such as www.jobbank.gc.ca and www.apprenticesearch.com may help you find employers that are hiring in your area. In addition, be sure to include non-traditional methods of finding job opportunities such as researching companies of interest, cold calling and networking to access the hidden job market of unadvertised positions.

If you find an employer willing to hire you but are concerned about the costs of on-the-job training activities associated with taking on an apprentice, it may be helpful to mention that they may be eligible for financial incentives. In fact, there are a variety of loans and grants that may be available to support apprenticeships and apprenticeship completion in both the Red-Seal and non-Red-Seal trades. These incentives can be accessed through Employment Ontario agencies. You can learn more at: www.canada.ca/apprentice.

If you are looking for free assistance with selecting your career path or finding an apprenticeship opportunity, visit an Employment Ontario agency such as Lutherwood. Employment Ontario agencies can help you evaluate which field is right for you, research employment prospects, learn which requirements or qualifications are needed in your field and find financial supports that you may be eligible for. They can also provide support to connect you to employers so you can obtain the education and worksite hours needed to meet the specific qualifications for your trade.