Grant program helps employers find apprentices
By Adam FreillConstruction Labour
Canadian Apprenticeship Service grant program aims to help employers recruit new workers.
The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) and its partners, the Canadian Construction Association, Aboriginal Apprenticeship Board, Apprenticesearch.com, BuildForce Canada and SkillPlan want to help employers hire workers to become apprentices, and they can facilitate access to as much as $20,000 in grant money per year to help with the hiring and training of this next generation of the workforce.
Stephanie Shrum, program manager with Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, presented details of the Canadian Apprenticeship Service (CAS) program during a recent webinar moderated by Doug Picklyk, editor of Heating, Plumbing & Air Conditioning (HPAC) Magazine.
The program distributes grants to small and medium-sized employers who hire first-year apprentices. Available for up to two new apprentices per year in 39 eligible trades, the program provides $5,000 per apprentice, and $10,000 for apprentices who identify as being within an equity-deserving group.
“The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum is one of 19 service providers across Canada who are providing this program to employers,” stated Shrum.
CAF launched its participation in CAS in September of 2022, but there is only one year left in the program’s mandate at this point, as it will wrap up on March 31 of 2024. The decision to work with partners has allowed CAF to differentiate its offerings, with each partner offering additional supports unique to this group’s version of the grant program.
“There are 19 service providers across the country. It’s going to be the same in terms of the timeframe that the program’s available, the money that’s available, the trades are all the same. Also, the application process is the same,” explained Shrum. “What’s different about us is we offer wraparound services in addition to the grant that you may want to take advantage of.”
She outlined several of CAF’s value-added items.
“The first is a complimentary matching service. It goes by region, and it goes by trade. We also have job developers that work with you to get good connections. It’s not just an algorithm that matches you up. There are real humans on the back end trying to make sure that it is a good match.”
The organization also offers complimentary access to a mentorship course and a mentorship app for apprentices and journeypersons.
“Maybe you haven’t had an apprentice before; this program allows you to see the six competencies that are important for transfer of knowledge,” she explained. “It’s self-directed; it’s online; it’s about two hours long; and it just walks the mentor through some of the skills that we find are particularly helpful.”
The app can help apprentices review competencies for their trade and check with their mentor.
“It doesn’t replace the logbook,” said Shrum, “but it can give you a printout at the end of that first year to easily go through a logbook and check off all the competencies, so it helps to stay organized.”
Skills training through SkillPlan and BuildForce is also complimentary for companies making use of the CAF portal to these apprenticeship grants. This can help apprentices who may not be fully confident in such skills as numeracy, percentages and measurements.
So, how does one sign up to receive a $5,000 or $10,000 grant?
“The first thing you’re going to do is go to apprenticesearch.com/cas to register,” said Shrum. “That’s the ApprenticeSearch website where you’re going to fill out just a little tiny registration page.”
The process involves some basic documentation, including a sub-agreement saying that the company will not work with another service provider during the time they are working with CAF.
“The reason for that is that we need to ensure that employers are just using the program for two apprentices a year. We need to be able to track,” she explained. “We also want to make sure that you’re getting the best service and the easiest way to do that is to keep with one service provider.”
As the program is intended to foster the signing of new apprentices, registration for the grant program needs to happen before an apprentice is registered with the jurisdictional authority.
“If nothing else sticks from today, that’s the main thing: Register with us, then register your apprentice,” stressed Shrum. “The reason for that is that it’s not a retroactive program. It’s a move forward program.” Brett Butler, owner and president of Aaron Machine Shop in Alberta, shared his insights into the program, which he accessed for two apprentices for his company.
“SAIT introduced us this program and encouraged us to enroll in it,” he said, adding that he registered online, and found the process very easy and straightforward. “Our two candidates were actually in-house employees who wanted to upgrade their skillset… If you have employees that are interested in upgrading their education, eventually getting paid more, we show them a path to making more money and building their career.”
As an owner, he takes a broad view of the program, the need to find new workers, and the costs involved in training people.
“Your best journeypeople are meant to go out there and make money for your business and to pull them off that to train someone for even a few hours a day, well, that is a very real cost for an employer,” he says. “So, if you have a $5,000 or $10,000 grant, the way I think about it is that buys you training time for a few months, which helps justify sending that person to school… I’m a business owner, and I would encourage everyone to do it.”
Details about the CAS program, including a list of eligible trades, is available on the www.apprenticesearch.com/cas website.