Apprentices are now getting a little help from the federal government.
The new Canada Apprenticeship Loan aims to motivate Canadians to complete an apprentice training program in a skilled trade and to destigmatize the trades as a profession, said Bernard Trottier, Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
The apprenticeship loan is part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan and applications became available for the first time in January of this year.
Trottier said feedback has been very positive.
“This is the first time an apprenticeship loan is available for Canadians, and it helps put people in the skilled trades on the same level of importance and opportunity as other types of education,” said Trottier.
According to Employment and Social Development Canada, apprentices registered in a Red Seal Trade apprenticeship program are eligible to receive up to $4000 in loans per period of registered training.
This loan stays interest free for up to six years for people registered in a Red Seal apprenticeship program.
Humber College’s Carrier Drive campus offers seven apprenticeship programs such as Arborist, Construction Boilermaker, Electrician, Industrial Electrician, Horticultural Technician, Network Cabling, and Plumbing.
“It’s always an expense to go through the process and the government is doing a good job so that resources are available to people,” said Carrier Drive operations manager Nick Farnell.
Humber Construction Boilermaker apprentice grad Kevin Haws said there is a shortage of people in the workforce and especially a shortage of skilled tradespeople available to fill the jobs that are out there.
“There are people working in the industry that are not skilled in what they do and it is obvious that they haven’t completed an apprenticeship program through a college,” he said. “It’s great they are offering this loan now and I wish it had been available when I was completing my apprenticeship program since it isn’t easy to take a break from work and spend the money on more education.”
Haws said those are reasons that hold people back.
Encouraging the completion of Red Seal trades certification in Canada is a priority for the future, said Trottier.
“There is currently a great demand for trades jobs in Canada because of a generational cohort of people retiring, and it’s good that we encourage young people to take up these trades to fill the gap,” he said.
Canada is currently recruiting people from overseas to fill the jobs.
“Countries such as Germany have an elevation of skilled trades stature and an education system that caters to these careers,” said Trottier. “We are trying to find ways to appeal to these cultural issues in our society that hold people back from pursuing the trades.”
Farnell said a career path in the skilled trades could be promoted better in high schools.
“Not every high school has programs that open the possibilities to the trades, and sometimes people don’t think of a trade as a first choice career, but when you see the wages you can make its definitely rewarding and a fantastic career to have,” he said.
Trottier said that it’s not money that prevents people from entering a trade, it is the “pride of saying this is what I do for a living.”
To alleviate these cultural stigmas, Trottier said the government fully supports these types of jobs and the new apprenticeship loan is an initiative that seeks to make sure people are not prevented for any reason to pursue Red Seal certification.