Using data tracked by and interviews with apprentices and employers, this report has explored the ‘winning conditions’ of apprenticeship.25 Specific factors that positively influence the apprenticeship process emerged in the study’s findings. These factors can be grouped into four broad categories of ‘winning conditions,’ which together work to define apprenticeship success.

Employment Opportunities

The findings from this study correspond with existing research emphasizing employment opportunities as crucial to the apprenticeship process. Interview participants spoke of the difficulty surrounding apprentice-specific opportunities in two ways: apprentices interviewed for this report highlighted the challenge of finding job openings that matched their skill level, especially in the early years of apprenticeship, and employers emphasized the difficulty of finding qualified job candidates to fill apprenticeship positions.

As a winning condition, finding employment opportunities can be considered as one of the entry points into apprenticeship success. The initial matching of apprentices and employers is a key factor that allows the rest of the apprenticeship process to take place. As a hands-on, learn-on-the-job system, apprenticeship requires the successful matching of apprentices and employers.

Prior trade-related experience

Prior trade-related experience clearly matters for apprenticeship success. The data collected by show that successful applicants have tended to be experienced ones, but this experience is not linked to having spent many years in the trade. Rather, it depends on having gained trade-specific experience in combination with college or apprenticeship program education. And as the interviews conducted suggest, the acquisition of early trade-related experience is often supported by individual passion and commitment.

For employers, the key is finding job-seekers with appropriate skills and work-ready experience. When interviewed, employers emphasized the importance of job candidates having hands-on, applied knowledge of the trade, and having acquired basic skills necessary for the job. This acts as a foundation upon which to build further learning and on-the-job training.

Training & Mentorship

With regard to on-the-job training, there are two factors that determine apprenticeship success. First, the ability of apprentices to find positions that offer exposure to the tasks and techniques necessary to complete their apprenticeship (as discussed above). And second, the ability and willingness of employers to provide the hands-on training and oversight necessary for apprentices to learn required skills. As expected, the apprentices interviewed for this study who were most positive about their apprenticeships were those who felt that they had received a good level of training from their employers. And for their part, the employers interviewed who were most satisfied with their employees felt that these apprentices were committed to their apprenticeships and willing to learn.

Trade-related Education

Training and trade-related education play complementary roles in Ontario’s apprenticeship system, and this study has revealed importance in the congruence between in-school and on-the-job training. Some interviewees spoke of limited applicability between school curriculum and job demands, but overall, experiences with in-school training were positive. Accordingly, of those applicants who had found employment matches through, best-prepared applicants for apprenticeship success were more likely to have college education and be further along in their apprenticeships. Trade-related education can also occur earlier on in an applicant’s pursuit of skilled trades work through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP). Though most applicants interviewed in this study did not apply to their apprenticeship through OYAP, one noted the importance of the gram in helping to introduce him to opportunities in the skilled trades.