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Students needed to meet the growing demand for apprentices in Canada

Posted on June 2, 2021

Students working in VCC

Original version published in The Georgia Straight

Did you know that Vancouver Community College (VCC) offers 14 trades apprenticeship programs that combine on-the-job training with classroom learning? If you prefer hands-on experience instead of spending your time buried in a textbook, then apprenticeship training may be the right choice for your post-secondary journey. Along with gaining invaluable career experience, most apprentices also get paid while they learn, and many graduate debt-free.

Isabelle Maheu, a communications advisor at Employment and Social Development Canada, recently told CBC News that there is “still limited awareness about the wide range of opportunities in the skilled trades.”

“Many youths don’t tend to readily view trades as a first-choice career and apprenticeship is not always promoted to youth as a pathway to rewarding and well-paying jobs,” she added.

According to a recent report [PDF] put together by Statistics Canada and the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, Canada needs to attract 167,739 new apprentices over the next five years in order to keep up with current demand. Because of the skyrocketing need for trained apprentices, now is the best time to start a program that interests you. 

VCC apprenticeship programs can be started during high school, after graduation, or at any point in a person’s career. 

After finishing an apprenticeship program, graduates will receive their Certificate of Qualification. This designation is otherwise known as a “ticket” and is recognized by employers across B.C. Grads can also challenge the exam to earn a Red Seal Endorsement, which allows their trade credentials to be recognized anywhere in Canada.

Popular apprenticeship pathways at VCC

The latest trade to get added to VCC’s apprenticeship list is the Hairstylist Apprenticeship pathway. Students with a passion for hair will learn the latest techniques in cutting, colouring, styling, shaving, chemical treatments, and extensions while earning a B.C. trade certificate. The pathway is made up of two levels and programs start on a regular basis with the next intake in August 2021.

Those applying for a spot in the program must be 16 years of age or older, or a high school graduate. If a student has not yet graduated, marks from the Hairstylist Apprenticeship can be converted into high school grades.

Other apprenticeship programs at VCC can help students become automotive collision repair technicians, automotive glass technicians, automotive service technicians, bakers, cooks, and more.

Most apprenticeships take four years to complete, with students spending about 80 percent of their time on the job, earning an income. Depending on the trade, apprentices must be prepared to attend full-time classes at VCC for four to seven weeks for each apprenticeship level.

Many apprentices are also eligible to receive the Apprenticeship Incentive from the Government of Canada. This can be up to $2,000 for men and $6,000 for women.

VCC has pre-apprenticeship (foundation) programs in many popular trades for those who want to get a head start while still attending high school classes. For example, VCC now offers a combined Automotive Collision and Refinishing Foundation to give post-secondary or high school students a taste of both trades.

Meet our experienced trades instructors and ask all the questions you want at an upcoming free information session.