Apprenticeship and Trades

FAQ's - Apprentices

1. What is apprenticeship?

2. Why should I become an apprentice?

3. Why should I become an apprentice instead of studying a trade in school?

4. How do I become an apprentice?

5. Where do apprentices work?

6. How much money will I earn as an apprentice?

7. What should I do if there is nowhere to apprentice in my trade in my home community?

8. How much does it cost to become an apprentice?

9. Do I go to Thebacha College in Fort Smith for technical training?

10. What sort of awards and bursaries can I apply for?

11. Can I get money to help pay for costs related to my technical training?

12. Can I change employers while I am an apprentice?

13. What happens if I take longer than expected to complete my program?

14. It has been a long time since I was in a classroom.  What programs are available to help me pass the technical training portion of my program?

15. What’s a Trades Entrance Exam?

16. I don’t usually do well on tests. Is there a program to help me write my Trades Entrance Exam?

17. What happens if I fail a technical training session?

18. I haven’t graduated high school. Can I still become an apprentice?

19. What about the school portion of my training? Will I have to get a loan?

20. I have worked in a trade for several years. Will my work experience be counted if I register as an apprentice in that trade?

21. I’m an experienced tradesperson working in a trade for a number of years, but now I want to get certified. Can I do that without going through the apprenticeship program?

22. Are there many women registered as apprentices?

23. I’m Aboriginal. Are there programs to help me get into an apprenticeship?

24. I already have a university degree or college diploma. Will that count towards my apprenticeship?

25. I’m having trouble in the program. Who should I call?

26. Is the training offered at the Thebacha Campus of Aurora College in Fort Smith as good as the courses offered down south?

27. I want to drop out of the apprenticeship program. Can I get back in?

28. I’m not happy with my current trade and would like to switch. Will I be given credit for any of my hours or technical training?

29. How often will I be expected to work?

30. My employer only offers seasonal work. Is this a problem?

31. How many hours a week do I have to work to complete my apprenticeship on time?

32. What happens if I have to leave my apprenticeship for some reason?

33. I ’m feeling unsafe at work. What should I do?

 


1. What is apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is a training system that combines on-the-job training and periods of classroom learning (usually 8 week terms, but can range from 4 to 12 week periods).

While working, apprentices gain practical experience with training provided by a certified journeyperson in the designated trade. While at school, apprentices gain the technical knowledge necessary to succeed in the industry.

Typically, apprenticeship combines 80 per cent on-the-job training with 20 per cent technical training.

2. Why should I become an apprentice?

As an apprentice, you will learn the latest industry standards and technology while you gain hands-on experience. Apprenticeship allows you to make money while educating yourself in the trade – you “earn, while you learn”. Ultimately, the goal is to become certified. This will create many opportunities, ranging from increasing your chances of future employment to mobility across the country. An Inter-Provincial (IP), or Red Seal, certification allows you to work anywhere in Canada in your trade.

3. Why should I become an apprentice instead of studying a trade in school?

Studying a trade in school is an option, but it’s expensive.

Becoming an apprentice allows you to earn while you learn. As an apprentice, most of your learning is done on the job. This enables you to make money while you gain the experience and skills necessary to succeed in your respective industry. Apprentices learn the practical application of concepts while training, whereas technology graduates must first complete school and then apply skills and theories.

4. How do I become an apprentice?

First, you have to find an employer willing and able to hire you as an apprentice. You’ll have to sign a contract of apprenticeship between you and your employer. If you’re still not sure how to get started, you should talk to a Career Development Officer at your regional ECE Service Centre.

5. Where do apprentices work?

Apprentices work in any number of businesses. Cooks work in kitchens and carpenters often work on construction sites.

If you’re apprenticing as an appliance service technician, you might be fixing appliances in people’s homes. It all depends on the trade you choose and the employer you’re apprenticing with.

6. How much money will I earn as an apprentice?

The actual dollar amount varies depending on the trade and employer, as some trades earn more money per hour than others. As you gain experience, your wage increases.

As you progress through the levels of apprenticeship, your pay will increase accordingly. Depending on the trade, you can expect to earn 50 to 80 per cent of a certified journeyperson’s wage.

7. What should I do if there is nowhere to apprentice in my trade in my home community?

If there is nowhere in your home community to apprentice in the trade you want, you have to consider moving to another community. To develop a plan, talk to a Career Development Officer at your regional ECE Service Centre.

8. How much does it cost to become an apprentice?

The fee to register is $50.00 and there are costs associated with technical training. Your employer may financially assist you during training with wages, costs of training, etc. In addition, the GNWT’s Department of Education, Culture and Employment subsidizes the cost of technical training tuition, accommodation expenses, required textbooks, and even travel costs. This all helps to reduce the financial constraints that may hinder apprentices. For more information, you should contact your regional ECE Service Centre.

9. Do I go to Thebacha College in Fort Smith for technical training?

The Government of the Northwest Territories funds the programs at the Fort Smith campus for NWT apprentices.

Having the technical training subsidized provides you with an affordable option for quality training. If your program is offered through Aurora College, you will be expected to attend Thebacha Campus in Fort Smith. You may enroll in technical training at another institution; however, you will be responsible for the full cost of the program, including living expenses and travel. Please note that it can cost up to 10 times as much when attending another institution.

10. What sort of awards and bursaries can I apply for?

The federal government has an Apprenticeship Incentive Grant of $1,000 available to anyone who completes the first level of an apprenticeship. It also offers an Apprentice Completion Grant of $2,000 for apprentices who achieve certification. Both grants are taxable. For more information, visit http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/goc/apprenticeship/index.shtml.

The Federal Government also has an Apprenticeship Loan Program.  For more information please visit: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2015/01/08/pm-announces-canada-apprentice-loan-program-now-accepting-applications 

11. Can I get money to help pay for costs related to my technical training?

Some apprentices can receive Employment Insurance benefits if they are eligible. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment also has some financial assistance programs available to help with technical training. You should contact your regional ECE Service Centre to see what options are available to you.

12. Can I change employers while I am an apprentice?

Yes. Like any employee, you should provide your employer with the standard two or more weeks’ notice. Before leaving, you should have your employer fill out your record book, so your apprenticeship hours are up-to-date. You will have to find another employer willing and able to take you on as an apprentice. After which time, you and your new employer will be required to sign a new contract.

13. What happens if I take longer than expected to complete my program?

There is no set timeline to complete your apprenticeship; however, work experience is only recognized for up to 10 years. Therefore, you should complete your apprenticeship within 10 years. As a general rule, you should stay in contact with your Career Development Officer to ensure you remain registered in the program.

14. It has been a long time since I was in a classroom.  What programs are available to help me pass the technical training portion of my program?

There are many programs available at both Aurora College and through your regional ECE Service Centre. Contact your regional Career Development Officer to find out more.

15. What’s a Trades Entrance Exam?

This is a test that shows whether you have the academic ability to pass the classroom training part of the trade you want to apprentice in. Each trade requires you to write one of five different exams. You need a mark of 70 per cent to pass. Should you fail, you can take the test again.

16. I don’t usually do well on tests. Is there a program to help me write my Trades Entrance Exam?

There are many resources available for potential apprentices.

You should contact your regional ECE Service Centre to see how they can help you succeed in an apprenticeship program.

17. What happens if I fail a technical training session?

If you fail technical training, you will have to attempt it again. If you fail a second time, you will need to work with the regional Career Development Officers and your employer to develop a work/training plan that will address the issues of difficulty.

18. I haven’t graduated high school. Can I still become an apprentice?

Yes, but like all apprentices, you must pass a Trades Entrance Exam to prove you can manage the technical training portion of your apprenticeship. Apprentices are always encouraged to complete high school, as it increases your chances of being hired as well as successfully completing technical training.

19. What about the school portion of my training? Will I have to get a loan?

That is up to you. Some apprentices can receive Employment Insurance benefits if they are eligible. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment also has some financial assistance programs available to help with technical training.

You should contact your regional ECE Service Centre to see what options are available to you.

20. I have worked in a trade for several years. Will my work experience be counted if I register as an apprentice in that trade?

This is up to your employer whether or not they are willing to recognize previous experience. Upon signing the Apprenticeship Application and Contract, your employer can verify your trade experience, and your apprenticeship hours can be adjusted to reflect past experience.

 

21. I’m an experienced tradesperson working in a trade for a number of years, but now I want to get certified. Can I do that without going through the apprenticeship program?

Yes, you can; however, this option is for experienced tradespeople with many years of experience. This process is known as Trade Qualification. You’ll have to go through the TQ application process, which can be quite rigorous. It entails filling out the application form, providing supporting documents, having your work experience verified by a relevant certified journeyperson and, finally, having your case reviewed by industry representatives (Subject Matter Experts – SMEs) in a Trade Advisory Committee (TAC). Contact your regional Career Development Officer to learn more.

22. Are there many women registered as apprentices?

Although women are certainly welcome in trades, there are currently fewer than five per cent of apprentices in the NWT that are women. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment is actively working to increase the number of female apprentices.

23. I’m Aboriginal. Are there programs to help me get into an apprenticeship?

About half of all NWT apprentices currently registered are Aboriginal. There are programs to help support all apprentices, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. Contact a Career Development Officer at your regional ECE Service Centre to learn more.

24. I already have a university degree or college diploma. Will that count towards my apprenticeship?

It depends on what type of degree or diploma you have.

A technical program, which relates to the designated trade, might qualify for some hours of experience. Contact your regional Career Development Officer to find out if you are eligible for credit. Even if your education does not count towards credit hours, the skills developed through postsecondary education are likely to increase your chance of being a successful apprentice.

25. I’m having trouble in the program. Who should I call?

Both your employer and the regional ECE Service Centre staff can help you with challenging subjects.

26. Is the training offered at the Thebacha Campus of Aurora College in Fort Smith as good as the courses offered down south?

Absolutely. The Thebacha Campus regularly has to pass a rigorous accreditation review done by industry professionals.

Also, the campus’ tools and equipment are state of-the-art, as they must comply with industry standards and practice.

27. I want to drop out of the apprenticeship program. Can I get back in?

Yes, but remember, experience is only accredited for up to 10 years prior. Keep your record book to make sure you don’t lose credit for hours you’ve spent working in your trade.

28. I’m not happy with my current trade and would like to switch. Will I be given credit for any of my hours or technical training?

Possibly. Whether you receive credit for hours earned in a previous trade will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Contact your regional Career Development Officer.

29. How often will I be expected to work?

You will work as often as a full-time journeyperson is expected to work. These hours vary both by trade and company. It’s a good idea to know the hours an employer expects you to work before signing an apprenticeship contract.

30. My employer only offers seasonal work. Is this a problem?

No, but it will take you longer to complete your apprenticeship.

31. How many hours a week do I have to work to complete my apprenticeship on time?

Each level of an apprenticeship program is comprised of 1800 work experience hours, or roughly one year of 40-hour work weeks including your classroom training.

32. What happens if I have to leave my apprenticeship for some reason?

Nothing. Keep your record book in case you want to continue your program at a later date, and let your Career Development Officer know you left your job.

33. I ’m feeling unsafe at work. What should I do?

As an apprentice, you have the same rights as any employee.

First, you should talk to your employer about your concerns. If this doesn’t help, share your concerns with your Career Development Officer. If the problem remains unsolved, contact the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.