Skills shortages are becoming a common challenge for employers and a corresponding shortage of apprenticeship training opportunities is a major contributing factor.
Research by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum shows less than one-fifth of skilled trades employers are engaged in hiring and training the next-generation workforce. Until we tip that balance toward training, shortages will continue to make headlines.
Employers cite many reasons not to train ranging from a fear of poaching to concerns about cost. And there are risks involved hiring someone without certification in hand. Yet there is a solid business case for hiring and training an apprentice. Here are five points to consider:
- For every dollar invested in an apprentice, employers see an average return of $1.47 (based on testing across 21 trades). The size and location of the business had no significant impact on the economic return.
- Apprentices absorb the company’s culture, technology and environment while they learn trade-specific skills. Once certified, they are specialists who know the business and customers. Even certified trades people new to a business take time to get acclimated to a workplace.
- Inevitably, older, experienced employees are going to retire, taking corporate knowledge with them. Engaging your most talented trades people as mentors ensures their expertise is transferred to the next-generation workforce. Journeypersons often report a renewed sense of purpose when they train an enthusiastic apprentice.
- Over a thousand skilled trades employers report homegrown journeypersons are more productive, make fewer mistakes and have better health and safety records than outside hires. Their investment also pays off in supporting lower turnover rates and success when it comes to recruitment. Employers engaged in training report poaching from competitors erodes loyalty.
- Apprenticeship is cost-effective. Temporary foreign workers cost between $5,000 and $20,000 per person, while apprentices produce a positive net return in most trades by the second year. Federally, there are tax credits available for training apprentices in Red Seal trades and many jurisdictions also offer incentives and support for employers who train. These may include wage subsidies, tax credits or preferential access to government contracts.
Get started by having a conversation with your provincial or territorial apprenticeship authority to learn more about the regulations and assistance available to you.
Sarah Watts-Rynard is the executive director of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, a non-profit organization that connects Canada’s apprenticeship community. Visit www.apprenticeshippays.com. This article is distributed by Calgary-based Troy Media.
This article appears in the Nov./Dec. 2013 issue of PLANT West.