Many students, parents, educators, youth, and career-changers express interest in entering a skilled trade. However, these prospective skilled tradespeople may be unsure how, when, and where to get started to successfully navigate the many challenging and fragmented pathways into the apprenticeship system. The fundamental step in entering a skilled trade is finding an employer willing to train prospective workers via apprenticeship. There are specific conditions that result in job seekers successfully finding apprenticeship opportunities as well as conditions that result in employers making the choice to hire.

To explore apprenticeship processes and outcomes in Ontario and identify the ideal conditions for a successful apprenticeship, Winning Conditions for Apprenticeship looks to the experiences and perceptions of job-seekers and employers who used the website during a four-year period from 2010 to 2014. is a website developed by the Halton Industry Education Council (HIEC) dedicated to matching apprentices and employers across Ontario. The website provides an online platform for job-seekers to profile their background and experience and for employers to post jobs available in their respective companies. Individuals seeking apprenticeships can search the site for available opportunities and learn about the apprenticeship system while employers are able to scan profiles to find appropriate apprentice candidates.

These candidates are seeking employment within the construction, industrial, manufacturing, motive power and service sectors. Opposite them, employers are posting opportunities in these sectors with the hope of attracting qualified individuals to apply. Applicants may well possess a desire to enter the skilled trades but can lack the experiences and background necessary to qualify them as candidates. This lapse has been termed the skills gap by government and community agencies and ultimately centers on an absence of intermediary steps between an individual harbouring interest in the skilled trades and them becoming a candidate qualified to enter the field.1

Governments, policy makers and industry partners increasingly see apprenticeships, which combine hands-on, work-based learning with classroom instruction, as the intermediary step capable of reducing skills gaps. Both the Canadian and Ontario governments place a high priority on expanding apprenticeship training and incentives, especially for youth.2 This focus is driven by the many benefits of apprenticeship, including:

  • Helping to smooth the school-to-work transition and maintain low youth unemployment
  • Imparting strong occupational and employability skills that cannot be learned effectively in a classroom alone
  • Securing earning gains for employees who have completed apprenticeship training
  • Enabling the development of a productive and adaptable workforce
  • Lowering hiring and training costs for employers, reducing turnover and enhancing productivity
  • Encouraging higher employment in the skilled trades3
  • By exploring those factors that influence apprenticeship success, Winning Conditions for Apprenticeship seeks to assist apprenticeship stakeholders in understanding how they can participate meaningfully in the apprenticeship system—from acquiring a position in the skilled trades to fulfilling the terms of completion.