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Bolton, ON, 905-857-0025

Apprenticeships & Licensing

Apprenticeships contracts are issued by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities to men and women that are fortunate to be sponsored by an employer. The employer has to meet certain criteria also. Many of the technicians in the trades hold multiple licenses to work in the province or inter-provincially. Any apprenticeship requires the apprentice to work and train under the guidance of a licensed technician. There are restrictions on the number of apprentices allowed within a company based upon the number of journeymen that are employed. In small companies the ratio could be as low as one : one or in large companies as high as 3 journeymen for one apprentice.

The contract that is signed with the Ministry is for a specific number of hours of field (hands on training) and a specific number of hours in the classroom and shops at any of the approved colleges. Hours of credit can be deducted from the contract for any training or special courses that the apprentice may have taken that are related to or of benefit in the assigned trade. A minimum of grade twelve is required in Ontario to enroll as an apprentice.Any trade related courses that were taken during high school or post-secondary learning are credited 1 to 1.  The 9,000 hour contract for Air conditioning and refrigeration can be substantially reduced by the time of registration with additional credit for working in the trade up to the time of registration. It is not easy to get a Company to sponsor an apprentice, as the employer will invest a lot of time and money into training only to have the apprentice leave the employ at the first offer for an increase in wages. Many employers I know would rather entice a 3rd. through 5th. year apprentice away from another contractor to save on the training. There could easily be $1,000.00 in expense, paid by the employer to have a new apprentice certified in Fall Protection, WHMIS, operation of elevated platforms, Company policy and outfitted in Uniforms before he has had one hour of chargeable time on a site. Many apprentice hopefuls could be working as a helper for more than a year before the employer feels comfortable in the fact that the future apprentice is a reliable worker and sincere in his wish to become a tradesman. It is quite easy for a 5 year apprenticeship for the ACR license to take 7 years. During this time there will be 3 school periods at a recognized college lasting 8 weeks each. Under current programs the apprentice is provided with a lay-off for each period and can qualify for EIC (Employment Insurance). Unfortunately, by the time you receive your first cheque from EI you will probably be back to work. This can be onerous for many apprentices and require some financial stability and planning. Your wages will increase at each stage of the apprenticeship. At the end of the third school term you will be permitted to write the exam for Certification of Qualification, provided you passed the school terms and are approved by your employer. Many apprentices do not succeed on the first attempt and can re-write again in 4 months time. I like to draw a comparison to a grade 12 student entering the trades or going to university. There is a little math involved with this comparison, but the result is worth considering.
           
Cost of tuition, residence, books estimated at $10,000.00 per year for four years of an engineering degree totals …………………………………………………………………………….   $40,000.00

Chances are you need a reliable car, insurance and gas that could cost $5,000/yr. $20,000.00 Without factoring in any additional expense, the student upon graduation could be $60,000.00 in debt and start as a Junior engineer at $30,000.00 to $40,000.00 per year. This cost may be all on student loans unless scholarships or generous parents intercede.

Now for someone starting in the trades right out of high school

Income for year one while in the trade based upon $12.00/ hour and working full time for 2,000 hours…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………      $24,000.00
Income second year in the trade at $15.00 / hour working full time and based upon 2,000 hours of work …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………      $30,000.00
Income third year in the trade at $20.00 / hour working full time and based upon 2,000 hours …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………      $40,000.00
Income during the fourth year in the trade at $25.00 / hour working full time and based upon 2,000 hours per year……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………       $50,000.00

At the same equivalent time for the student versus the trade apprentice the student is $60,000.00 in debt and the apprentice has earned $144,000.00 and has one more year at apprentice rate of $30.00 per hour or $60,000.00 per year before licensing and earning upwards of $40.00 per hour+ benefits and a company vehicle to take home. The difference in dollars between the two people at the same period in time is over $200,000.00. The engineer will never catch up to the tradesman unless he becomes the owner of a successful company with a staff of 5 or more. The tradesman is in the 6th year earning $80,000.00 + benefits + company vehicle+ gasoline and with a touch of overtime can top $100,000.00 per year. At this point, he too, could start his own company and have a potentially unlimited income.

If I were to provide a moral to this story it would be that either person can succeed or fail. One is at least making money while learning the trade and being paid to go to school. This is hardly an Aesop fable about the tortoise and the hare, but the writer went to university to become an engineer until he ran out of money and could not make enough during the summer to cover tuition. When the writer quit school to learn a trade the cash flow made life comfortable and the extra knowledge that was picked up in university made learning the trade and excelling much easier. The point is that learning never stops and is simply a question of whether you pay for learning or be paid for learning.

Another license that most ACR technicians have is a “Gas Fitter II” certificate. This is a 2 year apprenticeship that can be learned in either night school while working in the trade or by going to college in day school. This course is not sponsored through the Ministry in the same manner at the ACR license and could cost up to $3,000.00 for the schooling while serving under a journeyman.

The highest license to achieve for working with gas is the “Gas Fitter I” certificate. This must follow two years working under a G-1 technician with a prerequisite of the Fitter II certificate. The cost of schooling for this license is approximately $4,000.00.

Many ACR technicians are multi-licensed and hold a Sheet Metal License, Electrical License, Plumbing License or Oil Burner license along with the Gas Fitter Certificate. Additional licensing along with good working habits and a personality to deal with customers will put the successful technician at the top of the pay scale and ensure job security. Learning the trades will also enable you to fix just about anything around your own home and save you thousands of dollars per year in repairs.




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