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How to Become an Apprentice in Ontario

By: Rory Sullivan

Why become an apprentice? Well, Canada is experiencing an extreme shortage of skilled tradespeople, and people with experiences as apprentices are in high demand. Not to mention that becoming a skilled tradesperson is a well-payed profession with good job security. Not everyone wants to attend university or a graduate program, and there is a common misconception that you need to have a degree in order to get a well-payed job, but that’s false! If you have always been interested in an apprenticeship, or just aren’t sure what’s next, read on!

Okay, what exactly is an apprenticeship? An apprenticeship is an agreement between someone who wants to learn a trade and an employer who requires a skilled worker. It is a mix of hands-on learning (which is paid) and classroom learning with trained instructors on a college campus and union training centre.

What are some examples of trades I can apprentice in?

  • Construction (ex. General Carpenter, Electrician, Plumber)

  • Industrial (ex. Cabinetmaker, Locksmith, Welder)

  • Motive Power (ex. Auto Body and Collision Damage Repair, Automotive Painter, Agricultural Equipment Technician)

  • Service (ex. Hairstyling, Aboriginal Child Development Practitioner, Baker, Chef, Child and Youth Worker)

  • A full list of trades in Ontario can be found here!

Steps to Becoming an Apprentice:

1. Prepare for an Apprenticeship (Optional First Step):

  • Free Pre-Apprenticeship Training - for those who left high school without graduating or have a high school diploma. A free program that will provide basic skills for interested apprentices-to-be, along with a work placement. Apply directly through an organization - check here for listings!

  • Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program - for those who are currently in high school (gr. 11 or 12). This program allows you to receive school (co-op) credits through a work placement in a skilled trade. Each school board has a coordinator for this program! Here is the website!

  • Specialist High School Major - This is a special program for students in high school to pursue their future careers while fulfilling their diplomas. When they complete the requirements, they will receive a special seal on their diploma. You must complete these requirements for a special seal:

  • complete a specific bundle of 8-10 courses in the student's selected field

  • earn valuable industry certifications including first aid and CPR qualifications

  • gain important skills on the job through cooperative education placements

2. Find an Employer/Sponsor: Before beginning an apprenticeship, you’ll need to find a sponsor/employer who would be willing to train you. Your employer can be an individual or it can be a group. Here are some places where you can find an employer:

  • Guidance Counsellor - if you’re in high school, your guidance counsellor will have plenty of resources.

  • Online - go online to research local opportunities, trade unions and associations, or job banks to see what kinds of apprenticeships are open for you!

  • Employment Ontario - This is an excellent resource that offers matching and training opportunities for those interested in an apprenticeship. Look here for more information!

3. Apply!

  • If you are OVER 18 you must complete an online application. You can find the link here.

  • If you are UNDER 18 you must complete a paper application. You can find the link here. After completion, send it to your local Employment Ontario office.

4. Sign a Training Agreement:

  • If your application is approved, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development will create a training agreement for both you and your sponsor to sign. After this, you will be registered for your apprenticeship training!

5. Register with Ontario College of Trades:

  • After being approved and registered, you have 90 to apply for a membership with the Ontario College of Trades. You CANNOT start your apprenticeship without being a member. Click here to become a member!

Now what?

  • Certificate of Apprenticeship:

  • You receive this certificate once you have completed your training. Your sponsor must send the required documents in order for you to receive your certification. You will receive this certificate within six weeks.

  • Certificate of Qualification Examination:

  • Some trades will require you to write an examination to receive your Certificate of Qualification (CoQ).

  • Other trades will not require you to take an examination for the CoQ, and you can directly apply for a CoQ through the Ontario College of Trades.

  • The CoQ will allow you to receive higher pay and more opportunities.

  • Ontario College of Trades Membership:

  • Once you have completed an apprenticeship that does require the CoQ exam, you have one year to write the exam before your automatic membership to the Ontario College of Trades’ Journeyperson Candidates Class expires.

  • Once you have completed an apprenticeship that does not require the CoQ exam, the College will give you a CoQ in that trade and membership in the College’s Journeypersons Class.

  • You MUST renew this membership annually.

  • Red Seal:

  • Writing and passing the exam to get a Red Seal will allow you to work legally in other provinces without extra paperwork and exams.

  • There are many trades where you can receive a Red Seal (ex. carpenter, cook, etc…).

  • For more information about Red Seal, click here.

Funding for Apprenticeships:

  • Apprenticeship Incentive Grant:

  • Taxable cash grants of $1,000 per year, up to a maximum of $2000 per person, for those who are out of high school and training in a Red Seal trade.

  • Apply and find more information here.

  • Apprenticeship Completion Grant:

  • A one-time $2,000 taxable cash grant is available to those who are out of high school and training in a Red Seal trade.

  • Apply and find more information here.

  • Apprenticeship Completion Bonus (non-Red Seal):

  • $2,000 taxable cash grant is available to those who are out of high school and have completed their training in a non-Red Seal trade.

  • Apply and find more information here.

  • Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women:

  • This is a new grant for women interested in entering an apprenticeship. It is a taxable cash grant of $3,000 per year/level (or equivalent) up to a maximum amount of $6,000 per person.

  • Apply and find more information here.

  • Canada Apprentice Loan:

  • This initiative is designed to help you receive your training in a Red Seal trade. You can get up to $4,000 in interest-free loans per period of technical training.

  • Apply and find more information here.

  • Tools Grant:

  • This is a new grant that will help apprentices pay for their tools and equipment. The amount of the grant will differ based on your trade sector.

  • Apply and find more information here and here.

  • Grant for Full-Time Study:

  • Apprentices may be eligible to receive compensation from Employment Insurance if they are attending full-time technical training.

  • Apply and find more information here.

I know! This was a lot of information. But it’s all important! As you can see, skilled trades workers are needed in Canada, and the government is willing to pay for you to complete your training too! This is an amazing path for many students, so don’t think your only option is university! If you have any questions, please refer to the resources below.

Helpful Resources:

Province of Ontario -

Ontario College of Trades -

Skills Ontario -

Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program -

Apprentice Search -

Algonquin College Apprenticeships -

Apprenticeship Network -

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