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RTO Apprenticeship Toolkit

A Guide for Navigating the BC Apprenticeship System

Apprenticeship 101

Welcome

Are you new to the apprenticeship system?

Interested in apprenticeship but don’t know where to start or how it works? This guide is intended to simplify and explain the apprenticeship process in BC. This guide is for apprentices and sponsors and for those considering entering the apprenticeship system.

Many BC apprenticeship programs are built on the interprovincial Red Seal credential program which provides mobility to work across the country.

This guide explains who’s who in apprenticeship and the roles and responsibilities of apprentices and sponsors. It explains how to get started, provides tips for on-the-job and technical training, and explains the certification process.

This guide also provides links to essential forms and documents important to the successful completion of your apprenticeship.

Overview of the Apprenticeship Process

Apprenticeship is a pathway to learning a trade, combining paid on-the-job training with in-school technical training.  Depending on the trade, an apprenticeship typically takes four years to complete. Those who complete an apprenticeship will have earned journeyperson status.

How does it work?

Agree to sponsor an apprentice

An apprentice is someone who works for an employer while learning his or her trade. While the apprentice learns both on the job and at school, the employer receives the benefit of an employee whose skill and knowledge increases while they learn a skilled trade.

Register the apprenticeship with ITA

Apprenticeship begins by completing an Apprenticeship and Sponsor Registration form and submitting it to Industry Training Authority (ITA). This is a signed agreement between the employer and the apprentice that specifies the trade in which the apprentice will be trained and provides the information necessary for ITA to set up the apprenticeship in their computer system.

On-the-job training (80% of the program)

The employer provides the apprentice with structured, supervised on-the-job training. The employer assigns a skilled journeyperson to teach the apprentice the skills of the trade and sign off on competencies as they are achieved. The employer tracks the apprentice’s work-based hours and reports them to ITA.

Technical training (20% of the program)

Technical training is the in-school portion of the program. It provides theory and practical training to complement the training the apprentice receives in the workplace. For each level of the program, the employer releases the apprentice from work to take the required technical training.

Certification

By meeting all of the completion requirements for the program the apprentice earns journeyperson status. Completion requirements vary by program but typically include a specified number of work-place hours, technical training, ITA assessment (exam), and a recommendation for certification by the employer.

Refer to the Program Profile for the completion requirements of a specific apprenticeship program. See Apprenticeship and Red Seal Program listings on the ITA website.

What will it cost?

The apprentice is paid a wage

While the apprentice trains on the job the employer pays them an hourly wage. This begins as a portion of the trained rate of pay for the occupation, and increases as the apprentice completes each level of the program.

Cost of technical training

Technical training costs include tuition, books, and tools. Costs vary between institutions and apprentices are encouraged to research carefully when selecting and registering for training. Depending on location, costs may also include travel and accommodation. The apprentice is responsible for the cost of technical training; however, in many cases the employer will cover this cost.

Cost of ITA certification exam (Certificate of Qualification of Interprovincial exam)

Apprentices: No cost to for the first two attempts. Each subsequent attempt will cost $100.

Challengers: It costs $120 to write the exam

Refer to the Fee Schedule for additional detail.

Who's Who in Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is government regulated but industry driven.  In BC the two major bodies responsible for establishing and maintaining apprenticeship programs are Industry Training Authority (ITA) and the Industry Training Organizations (ITOs).

Who’s ITA

The Industry Training Authority (ITA) leads and coordinates British Columbia’s skilled trades system. ITA works with employers, employees, industry, labour, training providers and government to issue credentials, manage apprenticeships, set program standards, and increase opportunities in the trades.

ITA is a provincial crown agency and governed by a nine-person Board of Directors, who have skills, experience and qualifications directly related to the trades. ITA was established in 2004.

For more information please visit ITABC

What is an ITO?

ITOs are organizations responsible for working with industry to identify current and emerging skills requirements, and to explore training and certification options. ITOs gather the viewpoints of their respective industry sector stakeholders regarding apprenticeship and represent them to ITA. They work with industry to identify training needs, review programs and make recommendations for change. There are seven ITOs in British Columbia.

Who is RTO?

The Resource Training Organization (RTO) is one of the seven ITOs. RTO is responsible for the management and development of apprenticeship training in the Resource sector, including:

  • Mining and Smelting
  • Oil and Gas
  • Pulp and Paper
  • Solid Wood
  • Shipbuilding and Repair
  • Utilities

Employer/Sponsor

A sponsor provides an apprentice with the opportunity to learn on the job. When an employer agrees to sponsor an apprentice they are making a commitment to provide the appropriate workplace training, supervision and assessment necessary for the apprentice to complete the apprenticeship. A sponsor is registered with ITA, and is a legal entity (e.g. company or organization) or a certified tradesperson or equivalent (preferably with sign-off authority).

For more information see Roles & Responsibilities

Apprentice

An apprentice works with their sponsor to complete work-based training, technical training, other program requirements and exams. An apprentice is registered with ITA and, along with their sponsor, reports progress towards program completion requirements.

For more information see Roles & Responsibilities

Supervisor/Journeyperson

The apprentice must work under the direct supervision of an individual fully qualified in the trade. Ideally this should be a certified journeyperson or an experienced non-certified tradesworker with ITA sign-off authority*. It is the sponsor’s responsibility to ensure that the person training the apprentice is qualified to do so.

For more information see Roles & Responsibilities

Pathways to Certification

In BC there are two pathways to becoming a certified tradesperson.  Either register as an apprentice and complete an apprenticeship program or challenge the certification.   If you would like to get some training in a trade before becoming an apprentice you may be able to get started by taking a Foundation Program.

Apprenticeship Pathway

Direct Entry

Direct entry into apprenticeship is for individuals who have an employer to sponsor them.
All you need to do to get started is register the apprenticeship with ITA.

Begin in High School

Youth can begin apprenticeship in high school through ACE IT or Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) programs.

Through an ACE IT, you can take courses that will give you both high school graduation credits and a head start towards completion of an apprenticeship program.

SSA provides students with the opportunity to begin an apprenticeship while still in high school and to earn high school credits for doing so. Secondary School Apprentices are responsible for finding an employer who will hire them and commit to their training as a sponsor.

Challenge a Level

Individuals with some experience in a trade but not enough to challenge the certification may be able to challenge a level within the trade. Not all levels of all programs are available for challenge. Check the program profile to see if a Level Exam is available.

Listing of Apprenticeship Programs: http://www.itabc.ca/Page496.aspx

Challenge Pathway

The Challenge pathway is for individuals with extensive work experience in a trade who wish to challenge the trade certification. Challenge requirements vary by program.

For more information see Challenging a Certification

Foundation Programs

Adults or youth with no work experience or employer sponsorship can take gain the knowledge and skills needed to enter the occupation by taking a Foundation program. Note that Foundation programs are not available for all occupations.

Listing of Foundation Programs: http://www.itabc.ca/discover-apprenticeship-programs/search-programs

Financial Information

The provincial and federal government offer tax credits to sponsors and apprentices engaged in eligible apprenticeship programs administered through ITA-LMA.  In addition, apprentices and challengers may qualify for government grants, bursaries, or financial assistance.

For more information please visit ITABC

Sponsors

Tax Credits

British Columbia Training Tax Credit Program

The Training Tax Credit program came into effect January 1, 2007 and provides tax credits for employers and apprentices who are engaged in eligible apprenticeship programs administered through the Industry Training Authority (ITA).

Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit

The AJCTC is a non-refundable tax credit equal to 10% of the eligible salaries and wages payable to eligible apprentices in respect of employment after May 1, 2006. The maximum credit an employercan claim is $2,000 per year for each eligible apprentice. If your business hires an “eligible apprentice” you qualify to claim the credit.

Apprentices

Tax Credits

Apprentices and challengers are eligible for a number of federal grants and provincial tax credits once each level of technical training and the accompanying work-based hours are successfully completed. In addition, a completion grant is available upon certification.

British Columbia Training Tax Credit Program

The Training Tax Credit program came into effect January 1, 2007 and provides tax credits for employers and apprentices who are engaged in eligible apprenticeship programs administered through the Industry Training Authority.

Tradesperson’s Tools Deduction

Certified tradespeople and apprentices may be eligible to claim the new tradesperson’s tool deductionfor tools and equipment purchased for work purposes.

Grants and Bursaries

Apprenticeship grants are designed to make a career in the trades an attractive choice and encourage more apprentices to complete their training. Eligible apprentices could receive up to $4,000 which can be used to pay for tuition, travel, tools, or other expenses.

Apprenticeship Incentive Grant

Registered apprentices who have successfully finished their first or second year/level (or equivalent) in one of the Red Seal trades can apply for the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant (AIG), which is a taxable cash grant of $1,000 per year/level up to a maximum of $2,000.

Apprenticeship Completion Grant

The Apprenticeship Completion Grant (ACG) is a taxable cash grant of $2,000 maximum available to registered apprentices who have successfully completed their apprenticeship training and obtained their journeyperson certification in a designated Red Seal trade on or after January 1, 2009.

Financial Assistance

Employment Insurance

Apprentices attending technical training may apply to Service Canada for employment insurance, however, qualification depends on individual circumstances. The apprentice must enroll at a training institution prior to applying for employment insurance. The employment insurance application requires a 16 digit code, which can only be provided by the training institution.

Student Loans

Cost of Examinations and Assessments

Apprentices are responsible for the cost of examination and assessments.

Refer to the Fee Schedule on the ITA website

Sponsoring an Apprentice

Assess your business needs and capacity

What apprenticeship is right for your business?

Define what role an apprentice could play in your business and what skills you are looking for in a new employee. If you choose an apprenticeship that does not suit your business needs you will not be able to provide sufficient training and your apprentice will not learn the full range of skills required to complete the apprenticeship.

Check the standards for the apprenticeship program to get a clear understanding of the competencies to be learned. There is an Occupational Analysis Chart for each trade, which summarizes the required competencies. Detailed information including learning tasks and performance expectations are covered in the Program Outline.

Visit the ITA website for a list of apprenticeship programs currently available in BC.

Does my business have the capacity to train an apprentice?

Assess whether you have the equipment, facilities, and materials necessary for the apprentice to learn the skills of the trade.

Who will supervise and train the apprentice?

An apprentice’s work-based hours must be completed under the supervision of a certified journeyman or a tradesperson with ITA sign-off authority. Identify a journeyperson to train the apprentice, who is capable and committed to training new staff to meet your standards and business requirements.

Confirm the eligibility of the person who will be training your apprentice. You can find this information on the Program Profile for the trade or contact Customer Service

Find an apprentice

  1. When ready to start training a new apprentice, promote from within if possible.
  2. Outside organizations may be able to help identify qualified candidates: Industry Training Organizations; Trade/Industry Associations; Unions; Colleges and Training Institutions; Secondary Schools.
  3. Take your time when evaluating potential apprentices.

Employers with a solid record of retention conduct a thorough assessment of candidates to ensure that the apprentice will adapt successfully to their company and remain with the business.

Register the apprenticeship with ITA

  1. Complete an Apprenticeship and Sponsor Registration Form and submit it to ITA.
    The form must be completed and signed by both the sponsor and apprentice.
  2. Send the completed registration form to ITA Customer Service.
    Note: If your apprentice has work experience in the trade submit a Work-based Training Report at the time of registration to have those hours credited towards his/her apprenticeship.
  3. Within 10 working days you should receive an apprenticeship package from ITA, including:
    • Confirmation letter
    • Sponsor handbook
    • Apprenticeship card
    • Apprentice handbook
  4. ITA also sends your apprentice a confirmation letter.
  5. Meet with your apprentice to give him/her the apprenticeship card and apprentice handbook. This is a great time to develop a Training Plan.

Becoming an Apprentice

You become an apprentice by finding an employer to sponsor you and registering the apprenticeship with ITA.  If you are in high school you can start your apprenticeship through an ACE IT or SSA program.  If you want some basic training in the trade before becoming an apprentice you can take a foundation program.

Direct entry into apprenticeship

  1. Choose a trade. Visit the ITA website for a list of BC apprenticeship programs.
  2. Find an employer to sponsor you.
  3. Complete an Apprenticeship and Sponsor Registration Form
    The form must be completed and signed by both the sponsor and apprentice.
  4. Send the completed registration form to ITA Customer Service.
    Note: If you already have work experience in the trade, submit a Work-based Training Report at the time of registration to have those hours credited towards your apprenticeship.
  5. Within 10 working days you should receive a confirmation letter from ITA.
  6. ITA also sends your employer an apprenticeship package, which includes:
    • Confirmation letter
    • Sponsor handbook
    • Apprenticeship card
    • Apprentice handbook
  7. Meet with your employer to get your apprenticeship card and apprentice handbook.

Start your apprenticeship in high school

You can begin apprenticeship in high school through Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training (ACE IT) or Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) programs.

Accelerated Credit Enrolment in Industry Training (ACE IT)

Through an ACE IT, you can take courses that will give you both high school graduation credits and a head start towards completion of an apprenticeship program.

Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA)

SSA provides students with the opportunity to begin an apprenticeship while still in high school and to earn high school credits for doing so. Secondary School Apprentices are responsible for finding an employer who will hire them and commit to their training as a sponsor.

Take a foundation program

You can take a foundation program to gain some basic skills and knowledge in the trade, increasing your opportunity for finding employment in your selected trade. The foundation program offers skills training specific to your trade; plus other essential skills like math to prepare you for apprenticeship.

Not all occupations offer a Foundation program. Refer to the Listing of Foundation Programs on the ITA website for availability.

FAQ

What is a Registered Apprentice?

An apprentice is an individual that agrees to work with an employer (sponsor) while developing his/her skills in a trade. The apprentice acquires this new knowledge and skill through work-based training, technical training, other program requirements and has his level tested through exams, practical tests and other forms of competency assessment. An apprentice is registered with the ITA and, along with their sponsor, reports progress towards program requirements.

What are the responsibilities of a registered apprentice?

The apprentice’s responsibilities are the same as those of any employee in the trade. The apprenticeship agreement is between the apprentice and their sponsor. The ITA does not enforce any policies or regulate employment of apprentices. The ITA does not comment on wages or pay.

The apprentice is responsible for meeting all of the completion requirements of the apprenticeship program. The onus is on the apprentice to track their own progress and take control of their career as a tradesworker. The ITA is a resource in helping apprentices accomplish the goal of becoming a certified journeyperson.

Why should I become a Registered Apprentice?

Becoming a Registered Apprentice provides access to apprenticeship training in BC and a pathway to earning certification as a journeyperson in your trade. Registered apprentices may get paid to go to school. As a registered apprentice you may be eligible for employment insurance, government grants and tax credits

Do I have to pay to be a Registered Apprentice?

No… There is no fee to register as an apprentice in BC.

What financial assistance or incentives are available?

What is the role of a sponsor?

The role of the sponsor is to teach the apprentice(s) their trade on the job. If the sponsor does not or cannot do this then they are not a suitable sponsor. The sponsor is responsible for reporting the apprentice’s work-based hours throughout the apprenticeship and for signing off on the apprenticeship and recommending certification once all other completion requirements have been met.

Who can be a sponsor?

A sponsor can be either a company, organization or a journeyperson in the same trade as you. It is important, particularly in the final year of your apprenticeship, that your sponsor or an employee of your sponsor is a certified Journeyperson (or has “signoff authority”) in your trade.

How do I find a sponsor?

Look for a sponsor the same way you would look for any other type of employment. You might look for an employer through EI, job bank websites, or through newspaper openings.

Do you have a list of employers looking for apprentices?

No… Potential apprentices and employers/sponsors must make their own connections. Neither the ITA nor the ITOs have a list of employers looking for apprentices.

Can I challenge the certification instead of becoming an apprentice?

Yes… but you must apply to challenge the certification. The cost of application is $120.
Approval to write the challenge exam depends on your time in the trade and the scope of your work experience. Refer to the program profile for your trade, under Apprenticeship Program Listings on the ITA website

I already have hours in my trade, will those hours count towards my apprenticeship?

If your sponsor is willing to endorse those hours then the hours can count towards your Apprenticeship.

To do this, you will need both your former employer and current sponsor (or former sponsor) to sign for the previously accrued hours. They can submit this information to the ITA at any time after Registration on a Work-based Training Report. This is the same form that your sponsor will use to report your hours during your apprenticeship.

Can I get credit for work-based hours if my current or past employer cannot or will not sign for the hours?

Only under certain circumstances:

  • Employer is longer in business and the principals cannot be located.
  • Employer is deceased and employment records are not available.
  • Employer is located overseas and you cannot get employment records.
  • Employer refuses to issue a letter to document time worked in a trade.

Refer to your trade under Apprenticeship Program Listings on the ITA website and download a Prior Work-based Training Credit Application for the trade. Complete the Statutory Declaration Form detailing the hours and work experience. This is an affidavit that must be sworn to before a Lawyer, Notary Republic, or Commissioner of Oaths for the Province of BC.

Can I get credit for work-based hours accrued through self-employment?

No… you cannot self-report hours towards an apprenticeship.

However, you can claim self-employment on a Challenge application … but you must complete a Statutory Declaration and provide contact information for three individuals who you have worked with (clients, suppliers, and employees). This is an affidavit that must be sworn to before a Lawyer, Notary Republic, or Commissioner of Oaths for the Province of BC. This can also be done at your ITA Customer Service Office.

Refer to your trade under Apprenticeship Program Listings on the ITA website and download the Certification Challenge Application. Complete Part 1 and Part 2 of the Statutory Declaration portion of the form – follow instructions on the form.

Can I get credit for courses I have completed prior to my apprenticeship?

If you have previously completed a Foundation program with an ITA Approved Training Provider you may request that it be credited towards your apprenticeship. If the technical training was with a training provider which is not ITA approved then credit will not be granted. However, if a level exam is available for challenge for your trade you may challenge the level(s).

How do I transfer from another jurisdiction?

Apply to the ITA by completing an Apprentice and Sponsor Registration form. You must have a valid BC mailing address and a sponsor. Your sponsor can be in another province.

All hours worked previously, elsewhere in Canada, must be reported on a Work-based Training Report and must be approved and signed by your current sponsor.

You can apply for credit for technical training completed in another Canadian jurisdiction by completing a Prior Technical Training Credit Application. Applying for technical training credit is not guaranteed; your training will be assessed against program standards set out in the BC Program Outline for your trade.

Note: This applies to Canadian technical training only – foreign technical training will not be recognized or assessed.

Do I have to complete my Apprenticeship with one employer?

No… you do not have to complete your apprenticeship with a single employer. If you change employers notify the ITA and re-register your apprenticeship with your new employer by submitting a new Apprentice and Sponsor Registration Form.

What happens if I get fired or laid off?

Notify ITA in writing. When you find a new employer, re-register the apprenticeship with your new employer by submitting a new Apprentice and Sponsor Registration Form.

What is SSA?

The Secondary School Apprenticeship (SSA) is a high school program that provides students 15 years of age or older with the opportunity to begin an apprenticeship while still in high school.  Through this program, students get a head start on a trade while completing secondary school graduation requirements. SSA requires an employer to fill in a Youth Apprentice and Sponsor Registration Form that requires the Supervising Tradesperson name and certificate number.

For Employers - What tax credits are available to me?

For Employers - Can I sponsor an apprentice if there is no certified journeyperson at my workplace?

Yes… but the apprentice must work under the direct supervision of an individual that is fully trained in the trade. However, for the apprentice’s final assessment someone at the workplace must qualify for sign-off authority* as defined by the ITA, to sign the Recommendatoin for Certification.

For Employers - What do I do if my apprentice is laid off or quits?

  1. If your apprentice will be returning to work, don’t do anything.
  2. If your apprentice will not be returning to work
  • Send a letter (email) to ITA advising them that the apprentice is no longer working for you.
  • ITA will send you a letter requesting that you complete a final Work Based Training Report to clean up the apprentice’s remaining hours. You will continue to receive correspondence about the apprentice until you have submitted this final report to the ITA.