An apprenticeship is much more than learning to do skilled work. For many, apprenticeships pave the way to exciting, successful and fulfilling careers. Here’s a summary of what you need to know.
Put simply, an apprenticeship is an opportunity to combine a classroom education with work-based, skilled training. One of the major advantages of apprenticeships is that you can start them as early as high school, which gives you more time to make money in your career of choice. The goal of an apprenticeship is to obtain a trade credential. This proves that you are qualified and certified to work in a skilled trade. This all sounds pretty ideal, but finding an employer to hire, mentor, train, supervise, and pay you can be difficult.
In Canada, there are no restrictions on who can or cannot enroll in an apprenticeship program. This means children, men, women, young and old are welcome. Students at all levels of schooling are eligible. Some people follow the path of apprentice work to learn family trades, others out of pure curiosity, while others because they realize the career they’ve chosen isn’t right for them. Some Canadian apprenticeship programs even offer specialized training initiatives that cater specifically to certain demographic groups, for example, First Nations people.
There’s a lot of upsides to apprenticeships. Firstly, when it comes to work, few things are better than direct, hands on education. Next, it’s ideal for those of us who learn by doing. It gives the perfect opportunity to learn by practical application, instead of completely theoretical, like most schools. What’s even better, is that you get to learn from experts and specialists in your chosen field of work. But the classroom aspect isn’t completely lost. You have the chance to spend a portion of your time in a traditional classroom setting. This will help you fine-tune your skills. In addition, you’ll also learn about the most recent tools and techniques of your trade. What more can you ask for?
It’s always best to start young. This is not to say that if you’re older and want to explore trades that you’ll be ineligible, but kids who start young, usually by enrolling in youth apprenticeships, have better chances of landing apprenticeships later on in life. Youth program requirements vary by province and territory, but youth apprenticeships are always a good idea.
Pre-apprenticeship training programs are also a great way to get your foot in the door. Employers will be more likely to take you on if you can prove that you aren’t simply testing the waters and that you’re serious about your chosen trade.
Finding work as a general laborer can also go a long way in helping you land a good apprenticeship. Why? Because it tells your future employer that you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, or of a little bit of hard work. Another simple and often overlooked way of getting accepted as an apprentice is cold calling. Pick up the phone and call a few businesses that interest you each day. You’ll be surprised by the amount of people who’ll be willing to hear you out.
If the traditional pathway of education through colleges and universities isn’t for you, that’s not a problem. Skilled trade work may be more interesting to you. And an apprenticeship is one of the best ways to go about securing a rewarding career in a field of your choosing.
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