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Apprenticeship loan program open for business

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January 15, 2015 by STAFF REPORT

Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets British Columbia Institute of Technology students before announcing new federal apprenticeship loan program .
Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets British Columbia Institute of Technology students before announcing new federal apprenticeship loan program .

The Canada Apprentice Loan initiative is now open for business and accepting applications.

“Apprenticeships play an important role in Canada’s post-secondary education system and are a key provider of the vital skills and knowledge necessary to power and grow the Canadian economy,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper when announcing the new federal program.

“The Canada Apprentice Loan initiative will allow young people from across the country to access jobs in the skilled trades that are in-demand in different sectors and regions – from shipbuilding in the East, to mining in the North, to oil and gas projects in the West.” 

The Canada Apprentice Loan, which was introduced in Economic Action Plan 2014, will provide apprentices in Red Seal trades across Canada with access to interest-free loans. These loans will help apprentices address the costs they encounter during technical training, including educational fees, tools and equipment, living expenses and forgone wages. It will be managed by the Canada Student Loans Program within Employment and Social Development Canada. 

Apprentices registered in a Red Seal trade apprenticeship will be able to apply for loans of up to $4,000 per period of technical training. The loans are interest-free until after loan recipients complete or leave their apprenticeship training program, up to a maximum of six years.

“The Canada Apprentice Loan is a welcome new initiative that will help address significant labour shortages in the skilled trades by removing financial barriers to entry into apprenticeships,” said Sean Reid, Progressive Contractors Association of Canada. “As Canada’s construction industry works to encourage more Canadians to enter the trades, the Canada Apprentice Loan will have a strong impact on elevating the inherent dignity and status of the skilled trades relative to other academic pursuits.”

It is estimated that at least 26,000 apprentices a year will apply for over $100 million in Canada Apprentice Loans. Red Seal trades include 57 skilled trades including bakers, bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, gasfitters, heavy equipment operators, ironworkers, machinists, painters, plumbers, sheet metal workers, and truck mechanics, to name a few. According to Statistics Canada, almost 360,000 people are enrolled in over 400 apprenticeship and skilled trades programs. But, only half of apprentices are completing their programs. There are approximately 2.9 million skilled trade workers in Canada representing 17 per cent of the workforce.

“These loans demonstrate the government’s strong commitment to apprentices and the importance of colleges as a driver of economic growth,” said Anne Sado, president, George Brown College. “Thanks to the loans, and other financial supports provided by both the government and through (the college system), we will be able to educate more students with the necessary skills to fill critical vacancies across our city, our province and spanning the entire country.”

Applications and eligibility criteria are available through the Canada Apprentice Loan Online Service at Canada.ca/apprentice. Applicants that submit all the necessary information can expect to receive their loan within seven to ten business days from the time the application is received.