In Ontario, there are more jobs in the trades than skilled workers available to fill them. In the next few years, it’s estimated that there will be a shortage of nearly 100,000 skilled workers and that one in five new job openings will be in the trades. In First Nations communities alone the need for skilled construction is desired because of the demand to build new homes.
To help meet the need for skilled workers, the Native Education and Training College in North Bay has opened a new apprenticeship Skilled Trades Centre. Campus Director, Larry Stewart says, “Our program is open to both native and non-native students. We will give students the skills and hands-on training they need to become entry-level carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and welders.” NETC is a private career college whose courses are available to the wider public.
So many opportunities
To be granted a letter of acceptance into the program, students need a grade 12 diploma and a keen interest in a career in the trades. The student begins by working four months on the trades centre shop floor with a licenced journeyman. Stewart says, “Then the apprentice goes on an eight-month field placement with a local contractor. The school pays the contractor to accept the apprentice for eight moths of on-the-job training.”
Apprenticeship training at NETC is 10% theory and 90% hands-on experience. It gives an apprentice the chance to gain real life experience on a job site. Stewart says, “I sign up apprentices as their sponsor and later the trades instructor or local contractor will take them and sign them up under his name.” Stewart points out that he can sponsor up to 20 students who are registered as first-year journeyman, while outside of this program, a journeyman can only accept one apprentice at a time.
Stewart is looking for apprentices who demonstrate a commitment to their chosen craft. He says, “People must realize that it’s not a 40-week course. Because the program follows the Skilled Trades Standards manual, it can take up to seven years before an apprentice can receive their Certificate of Qualification.” That commitment is about the same length of time it takes for a medical student to become a doctor.
Potential payoffs are huge
If an apprentice works hard and is dedicated to the trade their earning potential can be tremendous. Stewart says, “A self-employed contractor can make up $180 to $225 an hour. If they have their own truck and their own tools and they’re experienced, they could make a very good living and easily make $150,000 a year.”
Apprentices who are working toward launching their own business are welcome to use the Trades Centre as a base. Stewart says, “If they’re building their own business, they can come back to use the shop if they want to do some work while they’re waiting for the phone to ring for their next job.” Stewart has seen firsthand, the sense of satisfaction apprentices get knowing that they have the skills to build a career and give back to their community.
The trades centre has start dates every Monday and runs two shifts from 7am to 3pm and 3pm to 11pm Monday through Friday and a one-day shift on Saturday. They can train up to 24 apprentices a week and the school has financing available. The tuition includes all the materials, safety clothing, and tool belt.
For more information and to book an appointment to tour the NETC Trades Centre please contact Larry Stewart at (705) 494-4700 Email [email protected].