What is Apprenticeship?

What is Apprenticeship?

Discover Youth Apprenticeship

On-the-Job Training

Apprenticeship is a form of post-secondary education for both young and mature individuals who want to be certified to work in a skilled trade. It is a combination of on‑the‑job and technical training where skilled trades professionals (certified journeypersons) pass on knowledge and skills to learners (apprentices).

Apprenticeship begins with an agreement between an apprentice and an employer. The apprentice agrees to work for the employer in exchange for supervised, on-the-job training and experience, and the opportunity to participate in the necessary technical training. In the workplace, apprentices are supervised by a certified journeyperson who tracks both their hours and competence in the practical skills of the trade.  Take a Test Drive.


Pathways to apprenticeship


Direct-entry into apprenticeship

Did you know that you can start an apprenticeship with little or no trade experience? If you can find an employer who is willing to hire and train you as an apprentice, you can start to earn money and learn the skills of your chosen career right away. There is no requirement to attend a college or other trades-training program prior to registering as an apprentice.

Example: Jane finishes high school and immediately finds an employer who agrees to register her as an Automotive Service Technician (AST) apprentice. The employer will ensure that Jane works under the supervision of a certified journeyperson who will teach her the skills of her trade. Typically, Jane will work and train on-the-job for about one year before going to school to attend apprenticeship technical training (approximately 6 to 8 weeks per year). As AST is a four-year trade, Jane will repeat this cycle of workplace and in-school training for four levels.


Pre-employment Training Programs

Many employers want to hire individuals who already have some basic knowledge and skills in a trade. Pre-employment training programs are geared to provide their students with entry-level, job-ready skills to help them find a job in their chosen trade. These programs are typically taught in both a classroom and in-school shop setting (e.g., full-time college program). You do NOT need an employer to attend this type of training.

Completing a pre-employment program may make it easier for you to find an employer who will hire and register you as an apprentice. Many pre-employment programs are approved by the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency, which enables graduates to receive credit towards completion of an apprenticeship program.

Example: John attends an approved pre-employment AST program. Upon graduation he finds an employer who is willing to hire and register him as an AST apprentice. John will have to complete the same requirements as Jane in the Direct-entry example above; however, he may be eligible to receive an initial credit of hours and possible exemption from the first level of technical training (or approval to challenge the level exam).

Technical Training

Technical training is offered in class and/or online and is administered and arranged by the agency. Upon completion of the apprenticeship program (including technical training, on-the-job hours and competency in workplace practical skills), apprentices are eligible to write the certification exam.

Apprentices achieving a mark of 70% or greater on the certification/Red Seal exam will receive both a Certificate of Qualification and a Certificate of Apprenticeship and become a certified journeyperson.

Certification, Red Seal

If the trade is Red Seal, the certification exam is the Red Seal exam. Apprentices achieving a passing mark will receive the Red Seal on their Certificate of Qualification and ID Card. This endorsement is a recognised standard across Canada; one that employers look for as an indication of competency in the range of skills and knowledge that define the trade.

Check out the financial supports that can assist on the journey to trade certification.

Red Seal

Financial Supports

There is a wide range of financial supports available to assist individuals on their journey from apprentice to certified journeyperson. There are also supports for employers.

Employment Insurance benefits, awards, grants and loans are available for apprentices. As well, the Job Creation Tax Credit and START program are available to assist employers who hire apprentices. Check out the financial supports.