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Why Care About Apprenticeships?

  Edge Factor Team   |     October 19, 2023 |   5 minute read
Why Care about Apprenticeships?

The first national apprenticeship system of training began in the late 1500’s. The Statute of Apprentices set out the law relating to all trades and crafts, including apprenticeships. However, the practice of passing on knowledge to the next generation through hands-on experience can be traced back to the beginning of time, as generation after generation passed on their knowledge and skills. 


As Edge Factor shares our “Why Care About Skilled Trades” video, North America is facing a skilled trades shortage. Apprenticeships are gaining attention, as these training programs open the door for apprentices to receive real world training from skilled tradespeople.


What Is An Apprenticeship?


An apprenticeship provides hands-on training for those who want to work in a skilled trade. The apprentice develops work-related skills while learning from someone who is a master of the trade. 


A high school graduate can become an apprentice and begin to apply what they’ve learned in their STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) classes. Not every student learns best in a classroom setting, some learn best by doing. An apprenticeship allows them to take their head knowledge and apply it in real-world work environments.


The length of an apprenticeship differs depending on the state or province and specific apprenticeable trade. Most apprenticeships can last from 12 to 36 months, requiring a certain number of hours and training to be completed.  


There are many benefits to becoming an apprentice. Apprenticeship programs create a bridge between the theoretical and practical knowledge and can confirm if the trade is the right fit for the apprentice. 


Some other benefits include: 


  • the ability to earn while they learn

  • training course expenses are covered by the employer

  • apprentices increase their income as they progress through the apprenticeship

  • apprentices learn transferable skills they can carry with them to any profession or life situation 



What’s the risk if we don’t care about apprenticeships? 


1) Decrease in safety conditions at work: Historical data shows that when industry was starving for workers it began to ignore the guilds rules and codes for apprenticeship, therefore we risk losing safe working conditions making work dangerous or even fatal.


2) Risk losing master tradespeople: As tradespeople retire, apprentices fill their shoes and become masters. While the master-apprentice relationship has flourished over time, recently it’s found itself at risk of extinction.


3) Everything we rely on to live is dependent on skilled trades workers: In order to keep up with economic growth we need thousands of new apprentices across North America. 


So what’s the good news? The good news is schools, governments and industry and workforce development leaders, like Edge Factor are working hard to celebrate and promote apprenticeable careers. 


On both sides of the US-Canadian border, governments are providing funding to companies and encouraging them to host apprenticeships, so they can build their workforce, provide hands-on training, and help apprentices complete their certification. Apprenticeships benefit employers by bridging the existing skills gaps, as apprentices learn what they need to succeed in their chosen field. 


According to the US Department of Labor, “94 percent of people who complete an Apprenticeship program are employed upon completion, earning an average starting wage of above $70,000 annually.”


Apprenticeships merge on-the-job training with classroom learning, making it an ideal way for students and job-seekers to gain the skills they need to be successful in their career. The unique relationship shared between apprentices and trainers is built on growth, sharing of knowledge, and personal development. 


Apprentices are in high demand. Statistics Canada predicts in order to keep pace with economic growth and rising retirements, Canada needs close to 351,000 new apprentices in the next 5 years.


In the many apprenticeship programs that we have learned about, we’ve heard time and time again that apprentices become journeypersons with better safety performance, greater overall productivity, and fewer mistakes. It’s a rewarding training and career pathway for anyone to take.


Want to spread the word about the value of apprenticeships? 


Discover Edge Factor's free programming to equip parents, educators and workforce leaders to inspire students and job-seekers to explore apprenticeable careers. 


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