Continuing Education + Job Training // Publishing since 1999
Career Focus

Why is an Apprenticeship so Hard to Find?

By WENDY TERRY - May 14 2020
Why is an Apprenticeship so Hard to Find?

How we can help you find one

As an apprentice, you get paid as a worker which is good, but the hard part is finding an employer who will also train you. 

When you think about getting training for a job, you often think of going to an educational institute It is their primary job to be your educator. You would know where to look as there are six colleges in Toronto and the GTA: George Brown, Centennial, Seneca, Humber in Toronto and Durham and Sheridan in the GTA.  

But for apprenticeship training, you need to find an employer who would be willing to train you according to the curriculum for that trade as detailed by the provincial government. So the employer takes on another role as your educator. 

How many employers do you think would take on this responsibility in addition to their regular job duties?  How many would you have to approach before you found one that would train you while being committed to do so according to government defined curriculum? You can see why it is hard to find an apprenticeship. Employers do get a subsidy from the government but is it worth it. There are six colleges but there are thousand of employers in TO and the GTA. How do you find an employer sponsor?

Let’s see if we can help you search for an employer or sponsor as they are called. 

There used to be since 2009 an Ontario College of Trades ( but since 2019 it is winding down and the information is being moved to trades. 

I went to College of Trades, clicked on links, and got a link to the Ministry of Advanced Education Skills Development which has a link to Pathways to Apprenticeship. Under How To Prepare For An Apprenticeship you can click on “ a youth or adult not in high school or college” which leads you to Pre-Apprenticeship Training.  

Pre Apprenticeship Training is offered through colleges and community agencies. 

Phone 416-326-5656, an Employment Ontario hotline that will help you find a Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program. 

There are programs for those who have high school and those who do not. And there are programs for those who are unemployed or underemployed. All the colleges offer pre-apprenticeship programs. 

These pre- apprenticeship programs are free and costs for textbooks, safety equipment and tools are also covered. They include an 8 to 12 weeks work placement, basic level apprenticeship in school training, training to improve your academic skills and safety training for the skilled trades. These programs can go up to 52 weeks and start at different times throughout the year. The work placements help you make contact with employers

Note the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development has been reorganized to a Ministry of Colleges and Universities and a Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. The apprenticeship area is under the later. Mind the websites and links may not have caught up with this reorganization. 

Are you unsure what trade you would want to train in?

On this Prepare For An Apprenticeship page in the right column they have a Start an Apprenticeship link. On this Start an Apprenticeship page, Section 2 Explore the Trades

you are lead back to The Ontario College of Trades. Here they list the trades in four sectors, Construction, Industrial, Motive Power and Service.  You scan each list to see what trade you would be interested in. 

The trades in each list are coded as Compulsory with a black diamond and Voluntary no diamond. A Compulsory Trade, there are 23 of them, is one in which you must be registered as an apprentice. A Voluntary Trade is one in which registration is not required to work in the trade. If it says pdf after the listing you can download a fact sheet about that trade. 

Clicking back twice to the Start an Apprenticeship page in the right column you call click on Employment Ontario apprenticeship offices. At these sites you can make an appointment and talk to a real person. When you have a sponsor both of you will have to fill out a form at one of these offices to register as a sponsor and apprentice.

Make an appointment with a counselor at an Ontario apprenticeship office 

78 Richmond Street 
Oshawa, L1G 1E1

700 Dorval Drive Suite 201
Oakville, L6K 3V3

140 Allstate Parkway Suite 505
Markham L3R 5Y8 

The Emerald Centre
10 Kingsbridge Road, Suite 404
Garden Centre
Mississauga L5R 3K6

2 St. Clair Ave. West 11th Floor
Toronto M4A 1L5

Toronto South
625 Church Street 1st Floor 
Toronto, M7A 2B5 

In the Start an Apprenticeship page there is a subsection titled How to Start an Apprenticeship Section 2 Find an employer or sponsor as they are called. and they list suggestions about how to do this. 

The last suggestion is labeled Your Network “Ask around to see if anyone you know is in the skilled trades and if they are hiring or know someone who is hiring.”

Well we asked people we know who are in the skilled trades how they found a sponsor, employer. See end of article for Acquaintances Who Work in the Trades. 

The second suggestion is labeled Colleges. “Most colleges have a placement office, or can direct students to a career centre to help find apprentice opportunities” For us this reinforces the value of doing a pre apprenticeship program at a college. See the beginning of this article. Later on in the article we point out the College links to employer associations as we search through the Apprenticeship Sectors: Construction, Industrial, Motive Power and Service. 

The third suggestion is labeled On Line “Use the job bank to post your resume and availability for apprenticeship in your chosen trade.” Job bank is highlighted and if you click on it you are linked to Job Bank Government of Canada, Ontario website. Looking for posted apprenticeships is possible by choosing search options in the left column but what caught my eye was Job Match. Using this option you can create a profile and be matched with jobs. 

How do you know what key words to use that will link you with a job posting? Employment Ontario centres could help you. They are suggested in the fourth listing.

Employment Ontario (EO), “EO offers employment services and training opportunities like matching apprentices to sponsors.” The text “matching apprenticeship to sponsor”’ was highlighted so I clicked on it. You are lead to an Employment Ontario page where I clicked on Apprenticeship, and then choose “employment service’ then entered my postal code . I got 355 sites, overwhelmed, but as I clicked my way through each page I could see that the red ballons on the map moved farther and farther away from my postal code. I could find a service near me by only going through two or three pages. 

The bottom of these EO pages also suggest to check out  The first page of 211 asks for location, postal code, and then enter a topic so I put in “Apprenticeship sponsor”  I got a listing which included Apprenticeship Offices and College Pre- apprenticeship programs and then some community groups. I see that I have covered most of these. You call 211 and talk to a real person to help you search about. However, you can not make an appointment to meet with a counselor as you can at the EO offices or the Apprenticeship Offices or college apprentice programs.

In the fifth listing Unions and Trade Associations.”Many trades have unions or associations with resources to fund and match apprentices to sponsors.”  

For several years Learning Curves wrote stories encouraging foreign trained professionals to join a professional association. Why? You meet people in your field who know of jobs that are not advertised when you go to association events.  They have job banks where they list jobs as employers like to list where most of the skilled people they want congregate. The associations offer training themselves. All this is also true for trades associations. It is worth the membership fee. 

You need to know the right key words to get you to the trade associations that would help you find a sponsor. There is help doing this. You can book a librarian to help you. For the Toronto Public Library put Book a Librarian in the Search engine. We suggest you book the 60 min sessions. 

To try this key word searching out, I took some trades in each sector (construction, industrial, motive power, and service) and googled for information. 


First for Construction I googled Drywallers, Finishers and Plasters and several listings down I saw Local 1891, that is where Kevin trained as a glazier. (seeend of article for Acquaintances list) Sure enough they train glaziers. Call 416 740-5411 for more information. 

Then I googled Heavy Equipment Operators, and several listings down I saw Heavy Equipment Operators On this site there was a listing of names for jobs, like Backhoe Operator, Bulldozer Operator, Excavation Operator, Heavy Equipment Operator Apprentice and more. Good to know these key words. 

Then a couple sites down I saw one that says Heavy Equipment  Centennial College was listed here. On this site they note an employer association the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association. By clicking on the members tab for this association and using a couple of search criteria like location, you can get a list of these companies. You could start contacting them to ask to be an apprentice. 

Finally for Construction I put in LIUNA 183. In our March 2002 issue of Learning Curves (page 5) Carter Hammett had done an Article Building on the Future about Local 183’s training center and programs. Their training centre is in Vaughan, and here is a partial list of the courses they offer: Vacuum Truck Program. GPS Surveying, Asphalt worker, Bridge Construction, Drain and Concrete, High Rise Forming, High Rise Rodman, House Framing, Landscaping, Low Rise Forming, Road Construction, Sewer and Water Main, Tile Setting, Utilities, Welding. You have to apply on line and they call you when a training spot opens. 


First I searched with Machinists and got the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Canada and the USA have unions which are International as in they represent workers in the USA and Canada. Then I searched with Machinists Training and got Machinists where they listed courses at George Brown College and quite a number at Sheridan College

On the site they list the Canadian Tooling and Machining Association and on the CTMA site by clicking on members you get a list.  They give you a number of key words to search by like Tool and Die Manufacturing, Precision Machining, Automation and Robotic Equipment … and more. Good key words for on line searches. 

Then I searched for Instrument and Control Technician Training. What do they do? Industrial instrument mechanic is another title. They install, repair, maintain, and adjust instruments used to measure and control industrial processes. 

What came up several entries down the list was the site under Instrumentation Control Durham College has several listings: Electrical Engineering Technician, Electronic Engineering Technician. Mechanical Engineering Technology and then there was a Humber College entry that listed Wireless Telecommunications. Before the listing the first listing was for George Brown College, Control Technician Training which noted a Robotics class. This interested me given the automation of industrial production. When I clicked on this link the title for the program was Automation Technician Program.  

They listed a Canadian Process Control Association but you had to be a member to get at the membership list. 

Motive Power 

Two caught my eye Heavy Duty Equipment Technician and Small Engine Technician. 

By putting Heavy Duty Equipment Technician in Google I saw the Heavy Equipment site.  Here they refer you to the Canadian Transportation Equipment Association. Unfortunately if you are not a member you cannot search the member list. And I also saw on the Heavy Equipment site Centennial College ( Heavy Duty Equipment) Motive Power Technician. 

Again I saw the site where the listing was Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic and they gave other job titles such as Construction Equipment Mechanic, Diesel Mechanic- Heavy Equipment Maintenance Worker and more key words. 

Being a novice in the apprenticeship field. I went back to look at the Construction sector where I first saw The first was operation under Construction and this one was mechanic under Motive Power. I am getting a picture of the trade field.

Then I started a search for Small Engine Technician. The first listing that caught my eye was the Small Engine listing. Here they refer you to Mechanical Contractors Association of Ontario and their website allows you to access their membership- employers, sponsors. There was no listing for Toronto/GTA College programs but there was one for Conestoga College in Guelph and one in Georgian College in Midland, both are about an hour outside Toronto. 

If you are like me when you think small engines, you think lawnmowers, but the site leads you to think about snowmobiles, chainsaws, sport vehicles, motorcycles, Marine and… It also leads you to think about what you need to learn brake systems, engine function and design, engine fuel management, auxiliary power systems, steering suspension and … More key words to use in searches or to describe your interests and skills. 


In this sector two caught my eye, Arborist and Institutional Cook along with Cook. 

Arborists cultivate, manage and study individual trees, vines and other perennial woody plants. 

On the site one of the jobs they list is a tree climber. These arborists do not fell a tree by cutting the trunk, they climb it and cut the limbs off one by one from the top down. 

I used arborist collegesontario,ca to get to arboriculture programs 

On this same site they list the International Society of Arboriculture – Ontario Chapter. On their front page you can click on job postings. 

There is no college in Toronto and the GTA that offers training in arboriculture but Fleming College in Lindsay does, which is about one and half hours north east of Toronto. 

Now I am looking for Cook and Institutional Cook Apprenticeship I can see where George Brown and Humber offer Cook apprenticeship programs and Humber offers an Institutional Cook apprenticeship but what happened to my First I tried Cook and got to Chef/Culinary Arts Centennial, Durham, George Brown and Humber all offer Culinary Skills programs. 

They list the Canadian Culinary Federation but it did not link so I put this in Google and I got The Culinary Federation. There were many classes of membership including Foodie but I could not get to their lists without being a member. 

Visit the website 

I just spent some time trying to figure out how I drilled down to the site. I have my notes on it and I can find the site but how I got to it I don’t know. The point is this is a good site, an employer can list apprentice jobs and apprentices can post their profile. 

Acquaintances who work in the Trades

Samantha, Automotive Mechanic. 
Found placement through high school program Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program 
On Maternity Leave

In September 2020 has been admitted to Co-op Diploma Apprenticeship Program at Centennial College 2 year program. Autobody Repair 

Chris, Electrician 
I found my placement through The Joint Apprentiship Council. That is the IBEW apprenticeship training program. It is sponsored by both the IBEW and the ECAO. The IBEW one of the largest Electrical Unions. The ECAO is the Electrical Contractors. They have programs that prepare you for both Trade school and the worksite. They also offer training program that are available to apprentices who wish to further their knowledge or specialize in a certain fields.

The Electrical trade along with all trades are dangerous. If you are looking to become an apprentice make sure that you get registered there seem to be a lot of helpers out there. A pre-apprentice program is to asses your abilities. Make sure to take an interest in your Apprentiship. Know how many hours it is, how many you have worked. What parts of the trades you have worked in.

Kevin, Glazier
He cuts, refits, and finishes glass products such as windows and wall panels. 

He found placement through International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Ontario Local 1891

Simon, Carpenter 
My whole life I have been interested in carpentry, through out my early life I have had jobs in making and installing custom kitchens and cabinet making. Later in my life I found local 183, at the time they were hiring new unexperienced  people with the promise of training and job placement afterwards. I signed up and through local 183 I attended training classes in the framing sector and completed a 6 week course soon after I was in the field building homes in and around the GTA. I did that for a year and half and then joined the high rise sector as a form setter and have been doing that ever since. I love what I do, I build city’s for a living and I encourage anyone male or female who is interested in the trades to visit local 183 and Inquire about training and job placement/job opportunities. 

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