Pathways

Pathway into trades & apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is an on-the-job training program for people who want to pursue a fulfilling career in the skilled trades.

The vast majority (90 per cent), of apprenticeship training happens in a workplace under the supervision of skilled tradespeople; the remainder of your time is spent taking classroom instruction, usually at a post-secondary institution such as Conestoga College.

Your path to apprenticeship begins when you enter into a contract with an employer who needs a skilled tradesperson. You must be employed to begin your apprenticeship and your employer must agree to apprentice you in a specific trade. You will be earning pay while you learn as this process is an agreement between yourself, your employer and the Government of Ontario.

Usually, an apprentice applies directly to an employer, union or local apprenticing committee, however, many employers today are looking for experienced apprentices and are less willing to hire an untrained employee.

This is where Conestoga College can be helpful in getting you both the experience and the credentials you need for a successful apprenticeship.

Our Dual Credential Programs are offered for both certificates and diplomas. These programs are designed specifically for students who wish to cover a number of levels of their apprenticeship through the college curriculum.

In these programs you may also be eligible, depending on your academic standing, to take a government apprenticeship exemption test before you register with an employer. The government apprenticeship exemption tests are valid for two years and may allow you to be exempted from further levels of trade school. This has the benefit of saving you time and building your on-the-job skillset before going to work.

Conestoga has many pathways and programs to help you stand out and be seen as an asset by potential employers.

For more information about your options for apprenticeship, contact your local Employment Ontario apprenticeship office.

An apprenticeship program is a combination of on-the-job training and in-school training, with approximately 90% of the training taking place on the job and 10% in school. Often there are 3 levels of in-school training.

Typically an apprentice will work for approximately a year and then attend a level of schooling. An average apprenticeship program will last between three to five years depending on the trade. During this time the apprentice will become competent on the job in all the skills required and will also complete the required schooling.

Follow these steps to start your apprenticeship training

  1. Find an employer. To be registered as an apprentice you must have an employer who is able to provide you with on the job training
    • No employer? Employment Ontario Employment Service providers such as the Conestoga Career Centres have a range of programs and services to assist current and prospective apprentices.
      • Services include pre-assessments, career and academic advising, skills analysis, skills enhancement, links to financial incentives and employer contacts.
    • Contact the Conestoga College Trades and Apprenticeship Employer Liaison at trades@conestogac.on.ca or 519-748-5220 ext. 2400 for more information about registering as an apprentice or incentives for apprentices and employers.
  2. Contact the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) office
    • MCU will provide a form called "Application for Apprenticeship Training."
    • Apprentice and employer will need to fill out this application form.
    • Apprentice will need to attach a proof of SIN, education and age with application form.
    • Using the application form, MCU will create a document called the "Training Agreement."
    • For more information, you or your employer may call the local MCU office at 519-653-5758 or 1-866-877-0099 or email to Kitchener.apprenticeship@ontario.ca.

  3. Sign the training agreement
    • If the apprentice has previous hours to put towards their training, please discuss this during this process.
    • This document will be signed by the apprentice, employer and MCU.
    • At the time of registration the employer and apprentice will be asked their preference for training institution and format of training. This can be delivered in block release training which is typically 8 -10 weeks in a row or day release offered weekly for 40-50 days per year.
  4. Apprentice to pay Ontario College of Trades
    • This will activate the training agreement.
    • Pay your Ontario College of Trades fee within 90 days or you will have to re-do steps 2 & 3.
    • Pay annually to keep agreement active or will have to re-do steps 2 & 3.
  5. Apprentice is now registered
    • MCU will send an "Offer of Classroom Training" to the apprentice approximately 120 days prior to the start of the first level of in-school training. Apprentices with a valid Offer of Classroom training should follow the steps to register for trade school on the apprentice web page.

Apprenticeship programs can range from two to five years in length and during that time the apprentice receives wages based on his/her skills. The wages of an apprentice increase as s/he acquires skills and gains competency in their particular trade.

Apprentices generally complete three levels of in-school training during this period of time. Level 1- Basic, Level 2- Intermediate, and Level 3- Advanced. This is considered the Certificate of Apprenticeship (C of A)

Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, the apprentice is required to write a government exam in order to receive a certificate of Qualification (C of Q). Once the apprentice receives a certificate, s/he is known as a journeyperson.

Ontario has Canada's largest apprenticeship system. There are more than 70,000 registered apprentices currently undergoing training in Ontario. About 90 per cent of apprenticeship training occurs in the workplace and is provided by employers or sponsors to standards of skill and safety set by industry. The remainder of training involves classroom instruction which is provided by a community college or an approved training provider, such as a union training centre.

Skilled workers are in high demand in many industries. Becoming an apprentice can be an important first step to learning new skills and building a rewarding career. About 120,000 apprentices are learning a trade today - nearly 60,000 more than in 2002-03. Annual apprenticeship registrations have grown from 17,100 in 2002-03 to more than 29,000 in 2010-11. We'll continue to increase the number of new registrations while providing support to help apprentices complete their training.

There are a number of different ways to enter an apprenticeship in Ontario.

Conestoga Career Centres

A range of programs and services can be accessed through Conestoga Career Centres to assist current and prospective apprentices. Services include pre-assessments, career and academic advising, skills analysis, skills enhancement, links to financial incentives and employer contacts.

Career Centres are conveniently located at the Doon, Guelph, Waterloo and Stratford campuses. In addition, our off-campus Career Centre in Waterloo is located at 285 Weber Street North. To better serve job seekers and employers in rural communities, itinerant services are also available in New Hamburg, Elmira, Wellesley and throughout Perth and Huron counties.

Traditional apprenticeship route (direct)

Traditional Apprenticeship Program. A person seeking an apprenticeship is responsible for finding an employer who will sponsor him or her. The employer and apprentice register with the Employment Ontario apprenticeship office. Only after this is done does the apprenticeship training period officially begin. As of April 8, 2013, apprentices and journeymen in some disciplines will be required to become a member of the College of Trades.

Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program

High school students can begin an apprenticeship while still attending school. To do so, you must register for co-operative education and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP).

OYAP is a "school to career" program specifically developed to help high school students make a smooth transition directly into their post secondary apprenticeship program. This two-year program can begin in grade 11 or 12.

Participation in this program gives high school students a head start on their desired apprenticeship while completing their Ontario Secondary School Diploma. They receive credit for the skills they gain while with their employer during the apprenticeship period.

A successful OYAP placement could lead to paid employment and completing their apprenticeship after graduation. Employers may be eligible for wage subsidies and/or tax credits and should contact the Conestoga Career Centre for more information.

How does OYAP work?

  • OYAP is usually a two-year program during years 3 to 5 of high school.
  • Successful applicants must take the related technology courses, co-op and other recommended subjects.
  • The first on-the-job experience is a co-operative education placement for half a day (approximately 3 hours) in the second semester of year 3 or 4.
  • The second on-the-job experience is a co-operative education placement for half a day (approximately 3 hours) in the second semester of year 4 or 5.
  • Hours towards apprenticeship accumulate and practical skills or competencies are mastered and "signed off" in students' Training Standards Apprenticeship Booklet.
  • Upon graduation, students can begin full-time employment without interruption to their apprenticeship training.
  • Students attend a college or other training provider to fulfill the in-school portion of their apprenticeship training at specific times scheduled by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) Training Consultant.

Dual credit programs

Students enrolled in dual credit programs participate in apprenticeship training and post-secondary courses, earning dual credits that count toward both their high school diploma, post-secondary diploma and degree or apprenticeship certification. Students who need learning opportunities outside of high school would benefit from a college or apprenticeship experience. Students have the opportunity to:

  • Earn high school credits while studying at a local college or taking apprenticeship training.
  • Gain experience that will help them with their post-secondary education or apprenticeship.
  • Get a head start on learning and training for their future careers.

For more information, contact your OYAP Coordinator or your high school guidance counsellor. Visit School College Work Initiative for more information on dual credit courses and programs they offer.

College full-time certificate programs

Many of the Ontario's Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology offer Certificate and Diploma programs related to skilled trades. These programs require successful completion of secondary school (or equivalent) and can take between one to three years to complete.

Most programs include practical hands-on training and may include a workplace component. A college graduate in a skilled trade area may be successful in marketing themselves to an employer willing to register him/ her as an apprentice.

College part-time certificate programs

Many colleges offer part-time courses or programs that are geared to train individuals who wish to gain more trade specific skills but are unable to attend school on a full-time basis. By gaining trade specific skills you may be successful in marketing yourself to an employer willing to register you as an apprentice.

Pre-apprenticeship programs

These programs provide training in a specific trade to help prepare for apprenticeship. They are generally fewer than 52 weeks in length. Pre-Apprenticeship Programs offer academic upgrading for candidates that do not possess their Grade 12 or equivalent, which is the academic entry level in most trades. In addition, it offers introductory theoretical and practical training, Level 1 in-school apprenticeship training in a specific trade as well as a work placement component to gain hands-on experience. Organizations offering these programs often assist with job placement. Hours spent in pre-apprenticeship training can be credited towards the overall apprenticeship training if the individual decides to sign on as an apprentice.

Additional information is available at: www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/apprentices/pre_apprent.html

Union or industry approved training

Some unions or trade associations run their own training centres and hold Contracts of Apprenticeship with the apprentice rather than the employer. Intake can be selective and may take place only at certain points in the calendar year. Visit ApprenticeSearch.com for links to unions and trade associations.

Internationally-trained candidates/persons with previous experience

If you have more than five years experience working in a trade from outside of Canada, you may want to pursue your Certificate of Qualification. For more information, refer to:

Many Ontario colleges offer pre-certification courses that allow you to write or re-write your certification exam if you feel you need to update your knowledge.

What to do if you don't have Grade 12?

  • Why not try a pre-apprenticeship program?
  • Why not look into upgrading through our Preparatory/Academic Upgrading department?
  • Why not consider a certificate program where the admission requirements are 19 years of age or older? Successful completion of most programs allows graduates the opportunity to gain a Ontario College Certificate which is recognized as an equivalency to your Grade 12 when being registered as an apprentice.

Over 150 occupations and careers in the trades exist in 4 major sectors:

Construction sector

Includes trades such as brick and stone mason, construction and maintenance electrician, carpenter, hoisting engineer, ironworker, lather, plumber, refrigeration and air-conditioning mechanic, sheet metal worker, cabinet maker

Service sector

Includes trades such as cook, baker, hairstylist, arborist, horticultural technician, educational assistant, Early Child Educator (ECE), truck driver

Industrial sector

Includes trades such as welder fitter, industrial electrician, general machinist, pattern maker, tool and die maker, mould maker, machine tool builder and integrator

Motive power sector

Includes trades such as automotive service technician, farm equipment mechanic, fuel and electrical systems technician, air-cooled and marine mechanic, truck and coach technician

Certificates are issued at the completion of apprenticeship training. They are:

Certificate of Apprenticeship

Shows that an apprentice has successfully completed the in-school and on-the-job requirements dependent on their specific trade.

Certificate of Qualification

Shows that an apprentice has passed the Government exam (where applicable). The certificate is issued once the exam is passed.

Red Seal Certificate

Skilled tradespersons obtain a Red Seal Certificate provides the journeyman with greater mobility across Canada allowing them to practice their trade in any province or territory in Canada where the trade is designated. http://www.red-seal.ca/

You can use this website to find our more about the essential skills required for Ontario tradespeople.
  • Research Essential Skills for 53 Red Seal trades.
  • Take online assessments to see how your skills measure up. There are assessments for each trade.
  • Build your skills with customized learning plans using free online materials.
Studies show that apprentices are eight times more likely to succeed in the trades if they have the Essential Skills they need. This website helps you build these skills.
www.apprenticesearch.com
General information plus a trades job database- you can register as a job seeker or an employer to post jobs. The job database is open to employers & job seekers in Peel/Halton-Dufferin, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Niagara and Brant/Brantford-Haldiman-Norfolk area at present.
www.caf-fca.org/
The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum is the only inclusive national body that brings together all players in apprenticeship training.
CAF-FCA works under the guidance of its Board of Directors, who represent every aspect of the apprenticeship community. Their work has brought to light a number of key issues that affect apprenticeship training - such as perceived barriers to training; the business case for apprenticeship; and the importance of promoting apprenticeship training as a valued and respected choice for post-secondary education.
www.careersintrades.ca/
This web site has information about careers in skilled trades and why choosing such careers make so much sense. Information is available for Youth, Educators, Parents, Employers and Media. Learn why apprenticeships and careers in skilled trades are excellent choices.
www.collegeoftrades.ca
In 2009, legislation was passed to establish the Ontario College of Trades, a regulatory college that will modernize the province's apprenticeship and skilled trades system. The College will encourage more people to work in the trades and help the system better serve employers, skilled tradespeople, apprentices and consumers.
https://www.ontario.ca/page/apprenticeship-ontario and https://www.ontario.ca/page/education-and-training
Ontario Government websites on Apprenticeship, OYAP, Training etc.
https://careerfoundation.com/made-in-the-trades-home/
Apprenticeship and skilled trades information for the Construction sector.
https://orgs.tigweb.org/ontario-civil-construction-careers-institute
Providing youth with insight into the Civil Construction industry and the many career opportunities that it provides, through increased public and government funding, knowledge and resources.
www.planningboard.ca
Excellent interactive information on pathways into trades and apprenticeship, wages and requirements
www.red-seal.ca
This website will enable you to learn more about apprenticeship, trades and Red Seal certification. You will also find a comparative chart of apprenticeship training programs across Canada.
www.skillscanada.com
Information on the competitions and other related skilled trade information including skill profiles and additional links.
www.skillsontario.com
A not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to young people and the continued prosperity of Ontario's industry.
www.toromontcat.com
This web site is an excellent resource for persons investigating a career or scholarship opportunities in the Motive power trades.
www.tradeability.ca
This website is a great place to start apprenticeship research!
Manufacturing Dead or Alive (video)
Is Manufacturing Dead or Alive? Check out the new world and skills required for manufacturing careers! Courtesy of the Workforce Planning Board- Waterloo, Wellington, Dufferin.
What are you planning to do with the rest of your life (video)
Career Exploration video for youth developed by the Work Force Planning Board of Waterloo, Wellington Dufferin and the School College Work Initiative - Grand Connections.