Major Apprenticeship Initiative Funded by Federal Government May Help Recruit and Employ New Workers

October 11, 2022

The Federal Government’s Apprenticeship Service is engaged in a large scale funding campaign, designed to increase apprenticeship opportunities and promote apprenticeships. It is also designed to increase diversity. This bulletin will focus on employers in the construction industry in BC, although the program is not limited to such employers.

Eligible construction employers (employers in the construction industry with less than 500 employees) can apply to receive up to $40,000 in funding over two years if they hire or register first-year apprentices in 39 Red Seal Trades (see list of eligible trades at the bottom of this page).

Instead of managing the program directly, the federal government is funding a number of different organizations in Canada and BC that employers can work with to take advantage of the apprenticeship drive. However, employers must choose one such organization per year. Find a list of the organizations here.

Labour Shortages in Construction Industry

The labour shortage crunch continues to challenge employers in this province – particularly in the construction industry. We continue to hear from clients that this is a major issue facing their businesses. We have heard from some of our clients that the problem is so bad at times, that they are deciding not to bid on certain projects because they are concerned about their ability to properly resource the project, if successful on their bid.

This is a not new problem – and pre-dates COVID with respect to the construction industry– however, the issue appears to be attracting increasing media attention. For example, see this article from last week here.

The good news is that industry stakeholders continue to consider various ideas and initiatives designed to address the problem. We continue to work with contacts throughout the industry as well on a number of ideas.

Overview of the Apprenticeship Service Program

Funded by Employment and Social Development Canada, the program seeks to incentivize first-year apprenticeships in 39 Red Seal Trades. Here are some of the highlights and conditions:

1. The Government of Canada’s Apprenticeship Service provides funding to various organizations across the country to enable employers with less than 500 employees to hire and register first-year apprentices in 39 Red Seal Trades.

2. The following compensation is available for eligible employers:

(a) $5,000 for hiring or registering a first-year apprentice worker.

(b) Additional $5,000 for equity-deserving groups: if the worker self-reports as a woman, new  Canadian, LGBTQ+, Indigenous, a person with a disability, or a visible minority.

(c) Limit Per Employer: Up to two first-year apprenticeship positions per year during the two years of the drive, for a maximum of $40,000 per employer.

3. Employers have discretion in how they spend the funds.

4. Employers must sign an agreement to access funding.

Although the labour shortage is a many-layered issue and this will by no means solve the problem by itself– the hope is that initiatives like this will provide some relief to employers.

As always, we would be happy to discuss the program in more detail as well as any other issues you currently face, including other challenges created by the labour shortage.  Please do not hesitate to reach out.

While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in this update, you are urged to seek specific advice on matters of concern and not to rely solely on what is contained herein. The document is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.