Barriers to Apprenticeship

Despite these benefits, a number of barriers to accessing, maintaining and completing apprenticeships exist. Although progress has been made by the apprenticeship community to address these barriers, many still persist. Prior research on the perspectives of individuals and employers has identified obstacles including negative attitudes towards apprenticeship, difficult training environments, concerns about the lack of resources to support apprenticeship, the impact of economic factors on work and apprenticeship continuation, and issues regarding regulations governing apprenticeship.11 Although registration numbers are increasing in Ontario,12 these barriers contribute to relatively low apprenticeship completion and certification rates.13

Two other barriers are detrimental to developing a robust apprenticeship system. First, a lack of information and awareness of apprenticeships, particularly the varied pathways into the skilled trades, inhibits individuals from pursuing apprenticeship training and trades careers.14 Second, individuals seeking apprenticeships often have difficulty finding an apprenticeship position, which acts as a significant barrier to entry into the skilled trades.15 A recent report finds that apprentices rated barriers related to employment opportunities – specifically finding an employer to register under – as most detrimental to attracting apprentices to the skilled trades.16

Both barriers point to the need for accurate and accessible information on apprenticeship opportunities and trends. Through, HIEC has compiled a series of six-month snapshots of job-seeker and employer data, allowing for an analysis of apprenticeship supply and demand, regional and sector breakdowns, and the kind of experience that employers require when hiring an apprentice.17 Data from June to November 2013, for example, show mismatches in particular sectors between the supply of apprenticeships (as indicated by employer postings) and the demand for apprenticeships (as indicated by job-seeker preferences). During this timeframe, while 50% of job-seekers were looking for apprenticeships in construction, only 30% of employer postings were for apprenticeship opportunities in that sector. Conversely, the motive power sector accounted for 36% of employer postings, but only 14% of job-seekers.

These data also reveal a gap between the experience that job-seekers bring to bear, and that required by employers. In the five trades most sought after by job-seekers, over 80 percent of applicants were not yet registered apprentices and therefore had no years of experiences as an apprentice. In contrast, the number of entry-level opportunities offered by employers was relatively low, emphasizing the importance of prior trade-related experience and education. This kind of information is an important corrective to low awareness of apprenticeships in Ontario.