Dr. Patrick Kelly, Dean of the School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science at Centennial College, answered some questions on the importance of apprenticeships.

Why are post-secondary programs in the construction industry vital to developing skills for our youth?

The construction industry in Ontario is expected to grow over the next several years. This projected growth will have a direct impact in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Youth can expect opportunities in the construction industry mainly due to increase in the demand of manpower (more projects) in addition to an aging labour force.Classroom learning does not fully simulate the reality of the work place. Apprenticeships and other hands-on post-secondary programs serve the construction industry by providing an optimum balance between theory and hands-on experience.

What are the most important skills students learn during apprenticeships?

In addition to all of the hands-on skills, the most important skills learned during an apprenticeship are the knowledge of various codes, safety rules, regulations and procedures, appropriate use of tools, reading & interpreting documentation, troubleshooting, teamwork, and communication skills. 

How are students who participated in apprenticeships more prepared for the workforce than those who didn’t?

Certainly, there is value in students pursuing various post-secondary options. However, many traditional programs often fail to teach the specific skills and techniques required on the job. Employers provide about 90% of apprenticeship training in the workplace. This is complemented with classroom instruction on theory. This combination of training creates a highly skilled workforce tailored to the needs of Ontario’s economy.

Why do you think apprenticeships and post-secondary programs have been gaining popularity amongst our youth? 

As the baby boomer segment of the population prepares to retire over the next five to ten years, it is estimated that 40 percent of current tradespeople will need to be replaced. This is expected to create many opportunities for young people to enter the trades. Unlike many other careers, job security and earning potential are relatively high in skilled trades and technology fields. Skilled trade workers are in high demand in Ontario’s ever changing work force. With rising tuition in colleges and universities, the concept of hands-on learning and “earning while learning” is very attractive to many young Canadians.