Apprenticeship in Ontario
Apprenticeship is a system of education and training that has been in existence since the middle ages which mainly focuses on the skilled trades. Apprentices would become indentured to a Master Craftsman and would work with the master getting proper training and acquiring the necessary skill sets. There would be a formal agreement that the apprentice would work for the master, possibly living in the master’s household getting room and board while learning. Upon completion of their contract (usually a term of five to seven years), the apprentice would become a master themselves and then be able to open their own shop.
Apprenticeship training is a hands-on training program in which the skills of the trade or occupation are learned while in the workplace.
Over the years this apprenticeship system needed to be formalized and had to become the responsibility of the various governments. The two principle organizations in Ontario responsible for apprenticeship are The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skill Development (M.A.E.S.D.) and The Ontario College of Trades (O.C.O.T.)
Apprenticeship in Ontario is often referred to as ‘on-the-job training’ or an ‘earn while you learn program’. In Ontario there are over 150 different trades recognized by O.C.O.T. in four different sectors; Construction, Industrial/Manufacturing, Motive Power and Service. Within these150+trades, there are 23 skilled trades that are designated as compulsory or regulated. What that means is that an apprenticeship in a regulated trade has prescribed Contract Hours that must be completed, specific Skill Sets that must be mastered and associated in class curriculum that is learned in the three (3) mandatory levels of Trade School. An apprentice will also need to sign a formal document called a Registered Training Agreement. This is a binding legal contract between the apprentice, the employer and the Ministry. Each party is responsible to fulfil obligations in order to complete the apprenticeship and for the apprentice to be eligible to write the Red Seal Certificate of Qualification Exam. Passing the exam (passing grade is 70%) means that the apprentice has demonstrated their knowledge at a National level and can work anywhere in Canada without writing separate exams in each jurisdiction. They are now classified as a Red Seal Journeyperson.
Most of the training, approximately 80%, is done while working for an employer on the job. In exchange for their continued labour, apprentices are paid while gaining knowledge as well as work experience and their wages increase with their level of skill as they progress through their apprenticeship.
There is a plethora of information on the internet associated with skilled trades and Apprenticeship in Ontario and the JAC strongly recommends that you do your research so you know exactly what you are getting into.