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October 12, 2010

Canadian Apprenticeship Forum’s toolkit aimed at increasing apprenticeship opportunities

The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum’s new online employer toolkit is designed to be a central hub of tools and tips to increase apprenticeship opportunities, says the forum’s executive director.

“Employers said to make it a one-stop shop,” explained Allison Rougeau, executive director of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum. “The toolkit is a mechanism to drive employers to participate in apprenticeships. There are a variety of tools which can assist employers who are already participating or wish to participate in apprenticeships.”

Rougeau showcased the toolkit at the Canadian Construction Association’s recent board meeting in Charlottetown, P.E.I. The interactive toolkit is web-based and can be incorporated into a company’s own tools and products. CAF wanted to turn its research into practical tools to help employers pick up tips on how to recruit and retain apprentices.

A CAF survey of over 1,500 employers indicated that 68 per cent of them did not have access to an apprentice. A survey of apprentices revealed the biggest reason they did not participate in an apprenticeship is that it took an average of seven months for them to find an employer.

“This revealed a disconnect,” Rougeau said to CCA’s human resources committee. “How can we do all this promotion to young people about the value of training if we were not providing them a opportunity?”

The toolkit provides reasons why it pays to hire an apprentice and includes employer testimonials about why apprenticeship works for their business. A searchable comprehensive list of all the available supports for employers who hire apprentices is included along with interview guides and handbooks for implementing mentoring programs.

Some businesses have indicated that they are too small or do not have a human resources department to help co-ordinate an apprenticeship but the toolkit can help fill those gaps, Rougeau said.

“The bottom line is that there is a benefit to training,” said Rougeau. “For every dollar invested in direct costs for an apprentice, employers receive a net benefit of $1.47.”

The 2009 CAF study, It Pays to Hire an Apprentice: Calculating the Return on Training Investment for Skilled Trades Employers in Canada, looked at the return on investment for apprenticeships across 16 trades.

The positive net/return, on each apprentice investment dollar, for some of the construction trades in the study, was $1.92 for boilermakers, $1.59 for construction millwright/industrial mechanics, $1.49 for construction electricians, $1.33 for bricklayers and $1.25 for sheet metal workers.

The cost components included wages and benefits, including non-compulsory and compulsory benefits such as workers compensation, employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan. It also included opportunity costs, including journeyperson time and material costs for mistakes made by apprentices, disbursements and administration.

The benefit component was reached by the average revenue associated with an apprentice by using employer-supplied data on charge-out/mark-up rates and total annual chargeable work hours.

CAF’s employer toolkit can be found at www.apprenticeshippays.com

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