Apprenticeships teach workers the knowledge and technical skills you need to know work in the trades.
They also give you the opportunity to find a career you love, get certified and earn while you learn.
If want to be an apprentice in Canada, it’s your responsibility to find an employer who’s willing to hire, supervise and mentor you.
Sounds easy, right? According to a 2010 Canadian Apprenticeship Forum report, finding a supportive employer who’s willing to sponsor you is often the hardest part of the process.
Darrin Carron, Dean/Principal at Durham College’s School of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship and Renewable Technology located east of Toronto in Oshawa and Whitby, offers six tips on how to find an employer-sponsor:
Tip #1: Get training in high school
Youth apprenticeships are a great way for high school students to explore the trades, connect with an employer and earn hours towards your apprenticeship while working towards a secondary school diploma.
These programs have different names and eligibility requirements depending on where you live because they’re administered by the provinces/territories. To be eligible in Ontario, for example, you must at least 16 years old and a full-time Grade 11 high school student.
Tip #2: Complete a pre-apprenticeship training program
A pre-apprenticeship training program gives people who weren’t a youth apprentice a chance to see if they actually like the trade.
But more importantly, graduating from one of these programs shows employers that “you’re not trying the trade on,” Darrin says. There’s an initial financial investment, but it’s worth pursuing if you’re having trouble securing an apprenticeship.
Tip #3: Work as a general labourer
Getting a job as a labourer shows an employer that you’re willing to learn and work. It can help you meet people in the industry and increase the size of your network.
You can contact them again when it’s time to find an employer-sponsor for an apprenticeship.
Tip #4: Cold call local businesses
Flip through your old dusty phone book and call local businesses in your area to search for apprenticeship opportunities. A career counsellor can help you structure and practice your script. Having a plan to wow the employer can help get an interview.
Tip #5: Go to the union hall
Visit your trade’s local union hall in addition to searching for apprenticeship opportunities at job fairs, job boards and company websites. You’ll find information on what it takes to get started in your trade and who to contact to see who’s hiring apprentices.
Tip #6: Build your network
Who you know matters and knowing someone in the trade is the best way to find a sponsor, Darrin says. Ask your parents, family, teachers, friends and acquaintances if they know anyone in your trade.
Search for company owners on LinkedIn. This will help you build relationships and learn about unadvertised opportunities.
If you’re interested in enrolling in an apprenticeship program in Canada, contact your regional apprenticeship office for more information.
Click on your province/territory to reach your jurisdiction’s website:
Photo credit: Adam Bindslev