What’s an Apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a combination of on-the-job training and classroom learning that leads to trade certification. As an apprentice you work for an employer while learning your trade. Once you complete your apprenticeship and receive your “ticket”, you are qualified to work in a skilled trade.
- You gain valuable work experience
- You learn the skills you need by actually practicing them in a work setting
- You get paid while you’re doing it
- You complete the program as a certified tradesperson – assuming you pass your certification exam
You spend about 20% of your time in school and the other 80% of your time on the job, getting paid, and being mentored by a certified tradesperson.
Apprenticeships are open to everyone – women, men, and youth. Most apprenticeships take four years to complete, depending on the trade.
What Trades Qualify for Apprenticeships?
There are over 100 apprenticeship trade programs in British Columbia including carpenters, electricians, plumbers and welders, as well as bakers, cooks, hairdressers, etc.
For a complete list of trades see BC’s Industry Training Authority (ITA):
For more information about apprenticeships see:
Finding an Employer
Finding an employer is the first and often most difficult step in an apprenticeship.
To become an apprentice it is up to you to find an employer or sponsor willing to train you. You and the sponsor then register the apprenticeship with ITA.
You look for a sponsor the same way you would look for any other type of employment.
You can do this by:
- applying directly to companies and job ads
- participating in employment programs
Online Job Postings
Employment can be found through online job sites. Try searching these sites using the title of job you are interested in. Some sites also specify apprenticeship opportunities.
A few sites to try:
Using Directories to Create a List of Potential Employers
Many job vacancies are not advertised. You can use company directories to produce lists of employers who employ apprentices in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.
A few directories to look at:
- BC Regional Construction Associations
See member directory for each association
Talking with people who are already employed in your trade is a good source of information. You may find employers through family and friends.
Another good place to meet potential employers is through organizations such as trade unions and business associations. You can attend professional development seminars, tradeshows and information events.
To find contact information for local business associations try:
- Associations Canada
Available at VPL Central Branch, 060 A84
Contact information for local trade unions:
Job Clubs & Employment Programs
Job clubs are a great way to network and can be very effective in your job search. There are also special employment programs for people interested in trades and apprenticeships.
Job search and related programs can be found at:
For more advice on finding an employer see:
In British Columbia it is not legal for employers to offer unpaid apprenticeship positions. As an apprentice you are being trained while working for an employer and must be paid at least the minimum wage.
More information about BC’s labour laws can be found at:
Financial Support for Apprentices
You may be eligible for temporary financial support during the in-school portion of your apprenticeship program.
Two types of financial supports are available while attending apprentice class room training:
Part I / Employment Insurance benefits provided through Service Canada.
Part II / WorkBC Apprentice Services Financial Support managed by the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, to assist with your expenses while you attend in-school training and may cover:
- Living Supports to assist with basic living expenses, such as food, shelter and utilities
- Dependent-care / childcare expenses – new cost that is a result of participating in training
- Commuting costs for daily commuting to and from the training location
- Travel costs for relocation to a temporary residence while in training at the beginning and end of training
- Disability related costs – new cost that is a result of participating in training
- Living Away from Home costs to maintain a temporary residence during training
For more information: