If you’re beginning a career in the trades you’ll need to understand the apprenticeship process. My husband started his career in BC and now we’re in NS. I enrol my employees into the program and help them with any concerns they have. So I’ve got a lot of insight into how the program works.
The first step you need to do is find employment in the trades. Years ago I would recommend a pre-apprenticeship program to get your foot in the door. However, there is a major shortage of trades right now all across Canada so you can honestly save yourself time and money and just apply to unions and non-union companies. They’ll hire you and register you as an apprentice.
Register As An Apprentice
Once you have employment your employer will need to register you as an apprentice. You will get a log book and an apprenticeship card to prove you are an apprentice and are allowed to be on job sites learning your trade. I don’t know about the rest of Canada, but where I am you don’t receive these until your first block of school. Your employer should be recording your hours. I HIGHLY recommend you track your own hours though. This is crucial information for your schooling.
Each year of schooling is referred to as a block. Not every trade has the same amount of blocks and timelines. The majority of the trades require 4 blocks of schooling and each block is 6-8 weeks long. You need to work 1600 hours in between the blocks, but if you’re close enough to that amount they will usually let you register in the schooling.
Schooling costs money. Some companies will deduct a small amount of your wages to put aside for you to pay for your schooling which is really helpful. Some provinces (NS) cover your schooling fees (not your books). You will also need to purchase books which cost around $300. While in school you can go in EI which helps even though you usually don’t receive your first EI cheque until you’re almost done with your block.
- Once you successfully complete your 1st and 2nd year blocks you can apply for an Apprenticeship Incentive Grant (AIG) which is $1000
- Once you successfully complete your schooling and become a Journeyman you can apply for an Apprenticeship Completion Grant (ACG) which is $2000
- There is a $4000 Apprenticeship loan you are entitled to and can take every period of schooling. The loan is interest-free for up to 6 years as long as you stay in the trade. I highly recommend my employees take advantage of this. Put it in a high-interest savings account, and just let it sit there for 6 years gathering interest. Then pay it back in full and keep the interest.
- Tradesperson Tool Deductions offers you $500 if you spend over $1000 in a year on tools you require for your trade. I strongly suggest every trades person takes advantage of this as now your tools are 50% off and they cost A LOT.
Make sure you review your provinces incentives as I know in NS there are additional ones:
- The Provincial Apprenticeship Progression Award is a $750 award for completing block 3.
- If you are under 30 you are eligible for the MOST Program. This means you can receive a rebate on provincial income tax paid on the first $50,000 of income earned.
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