Candidates in the 2018 election are urged to support measures to produce more apprentices by expanding the Ontario colleges’ province-wide application service to include apprenticeship applications.
“One of the biggest roadblocks for many students is there is no easy way to enrol in apprenticeship training,” said Dr. Fred Gibbons, President and CEO of Northern College. “A proposal developed by the Ontario colleges to boost apprenticeship enrolment will be key to Ontario’s efforts to close the widening skills gap.”
Currently, there is no clear entry route into apprenticeship programs. Students have to find a willing employer and many people don’t have the connections or the resources to make that connection.
Enrolling as an apprentice shouldn’t be so complicated. The process for applying to be an apprentice should be as easy as applying to college and university.
The most effective way to establish a one-window application process for apprentices is to expand the application service that already exists for college applications.
The college system’s application website, www.ontariocolleges.ca, gets more than 3.5 million hits each year and more than 200,000 applications are processed annually for full-time college students. Applications are processed quickly and effectively and the confidentiality of each application is protected.
Expanding the college application service to include apprentices would allow students to submit applications before they have secured a willing employer. Colleges – which currently deliver 85 per cent of the in-class training for apprenticeships – could use their strong connections to match students with employers.
Colleges are also asking candidates to endorse a recommendation to give colleges more flexibility to determine where to best invest apprenticeship dollars to meet the needs of their local communities. This would avoid the current situation where colleges often find they don’t have enough spots for some apprentices and too many spots for others, based on decisions that were made by government. “These decisions are better left to the local colleges working in collaboration with area employers,” said Gibbons.
It’s essential that Ontario produce more apprentices as growing numbers of employers are struggling to find qualified people. Last year, the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance said 41 per cent of employers it surveyed would hire more employees if they could find people with the right skills.
“Colleges can ensure Ontario produces a stronger apprenticeship system,” said Gibbons. “We urge our local candidates to endorse this proposal to help more students get the professional and technical expertise that leads to rewarding careers.”