The Apprenticeship Pathway: A Crucial Step in your Skilled Trades Career!

Are you a student considering a career in the skilled trades? Embarking on an apprenticeship is an excellent pathway to gain practical experience, hands-on training, and professional qualifications in various “apprenticeable” trades. Whether you’re passionate about carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, or any other trade, this guide will walk you through the steps to secure an apprenticeship in Ontario.

Older man supervising younger woman as she cuts wood.

Your first step is to decide whether the trades is right for you as you venture into your post-secondary life. If you need help to consider your options, check out this post about what to do after high school. Once you know that the trades route is a good fit for you and your goals, you should figure out which trade is the perfect one for you. Then, you can start the process of apprenticeship.

Research Your Trade

Start by determining the trade you’re interested in. Learn about its demand in the market, average wages, job prospects, length of apprenticeship, educational prerequisites, working conditions, and the skills required. Understanding the trade landscape will help you make an informed decision and set realistic expectations moving forward. Consult industry professionals who will offer unbiased advice on which trade to enter as others might provide a narrowed view or limited perspective on which trades are best suited. Priority must be given to skills, interests, and abilities when choosing a skilled trade to ensure a long and fulfilling career.

Complete Pre-Apprenticeship Training

Many trade unions, colleges, and other institutions in Ontario offer free pre-apprenticeship programs. This is an excellent way to “test drive” a skilled trade. These programs provide essential training and knowledge about your chosen trade or offer exploratory hands-on programs, making you more attractive to potential employers. Additionally, completing a pre-apprenticeship program may give you credits towards your apprenticeship and can easily parlay into an apprenticeship depending some institutions can help you find an apprenticeship after successful completion of this process. By completing a government-funded pre-apprenticeship, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Find Employers Who Offer Apprenticeships

Begin your search for employers who are willing to take on apprentices. Check job boards, company websites, and industry associations for apprenticeship opportunities. Networking with professionals in your chosen trade can also be beneficial through social media. Attend trade shows, seminars, and industry events to connect with potential employers. Use social media to stand out from the crowd! Follow new companies every week, and positively engage with their content regularly to build a relationship with these companies. Don’t be afraid to approach these companies in person to introduce yourself!

Future Planning and Strategy

If you are a student and considering the trades as a career, consider applying for a position as a helper in your field of interest instead of a job with no direct pathway to your trade. This will allow you to experience the industry you are interested in to see if you are a good fit. Another idea is to consider employment in a retail capacity in your particular trade like Gerrie Electric for example. This will give you a chance to network, and learn the proper terminology of all the tools and parts which will make you an asset as an apprentice!

Prepare Your Resume and Cover Letter

Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills, education, and any experience you have. Emphasize your willingness to learn and your enthusiasm for pursuing a career in the skilled trades. Make sure to proofread your documents thoroughly before sending them out and tailor your resume and cover letter to the job you are applying to using key points in the job ad. Do not use a generic cover letter and resume for every job.

Apply for Apprenticeship Positions

Once you’ve identified potential employers, submit your application for apprenticeship positions. Follow the application instructions carefully and include any required documents or certifications. Be persistent but professional in your follow-ups, demonstrating your eagerness and commitment to securing the apprenticeship.

Ace the Interview

If you’re selected for an interview, prepare thoroughly. Research the company, practice common interview questions, and be ready to discuss your skills and why you’re interested in the trade. Highlight any relevant experience or projects you’ve worked on, and don’t forget to ask questions about the company to ensure a good fit. Do not bring up salary expectations, benefits, and other entitlements at this stage unless the interviewer brings it up first.

Register as an Apprentice

Upon securing an apprenticeship position and signing your Training Agreement, you’ll need to register with the Skilled Trades Ontario. This registration is essential for legally working as an apprentice in Ontario in an “apprenticeable” trade.

Commit to Learning and Growing

Once you’ve started your apprenticeship, make the most of the opportunity. Be punctual, attentive, and eager to learn from experienced professionals in your trade. Take initiative, ask questions, and seek feedback to continually improve your skills and knowledge. Be respectful to your colleagues and mentors.

Complete Required Training and Examinations

Throughout your apprenticeship, you’ll need to complete both on-the-job training and in-class instruction. Stay organized and keep track of your progress, ensuring that you meet all the requirements for certification. Prepare diligently for any examinations or assessments to demonstrate your competency in the trade. Do not be afraid to ask for help during this process!

Build Your Network

As you progress through your apprenticeship, take advantage of networking opportunities within the industry. Connect with fellow apprentices, experienced tradespeople, and industry professionals. Building a strong network can open doors to future job opportunities and career advancement.

Final Thoughts

By following these steps and staying committed to your goals, you can successfully secure an apprenticeship in Ontario and kickstart your career in the skilled trades. Remember, patience, persistence, and a willingness to learn are key ingredients for success in any trade. Good luck on your journey to becoming a skilled tradesperson in Ontario!

This is a guest post by Larry La Gamba. Larry is the C.E.O of Trade Links Consulting, where he dedicates his efforts to empowering aspiring entrepreneurs and skilled tradespeople. He actively participates in community outreach initiatives such as The Skilled Trades Mentorship Group. Through these platforms, and other ventures, he reaches audiences nationwide as a keynote speaker, presenter, and workshop facilitator, focusing on themes surrounding skilled trades and entrepreneurship. With a wealth of experience, Larry has successfully managed two of his own businesses, notably leading a successful swimming pool leak detection company in Toronto for 17 years and has developed many more for his clients. In addition to his entrepreneurial ventures, he spent a decade as an educator, teaching French, History, and Civics at elementary and high school levels across public and private institutions in the Greater Toronto Area.

Larry La Gamba

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