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Report provides tips for attracting and retaining apprentices


Ottawa – The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum in February shared findings of its recent dialogue about labour supply and demand, including strategies employers can use to recruit and retain apprentices.

In fall 2015, CAF-FCA hosted four discussion forums in Ottawa, Halifax, Calgary and Vancouver. Participants discussed apprenticeship-related supply-and-demand challenges.

The report, “Apprenticeship Supply and Demand Challenges,” shared best practices employers can use to recruit and retain employees.

Best practices for attracting apprentices include:

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·      Involve senior decision-makers and leaders in the company and ensure they understand the value of the apprenticeship program.

·      Make it a requirement that any owners, contractors and sub-contractors working on a project have apprentices.

·      Engage potential apprentice candidates and parents

·      Reach out to instructors at local colleges in order to learn about co-op, pre-employment or pre-apprentice students looking for opportunities and with the colleges’ help set up programs to meet their needs.

·      Create an engaging website that describes the company’s values and effectively uses social media is another way to attract youth.

·      Look for internal candidates to become apprentices. These individuals are already working at the company so they understand the culture and may be more committed to staying.

·      Offer high-quality training and a positive learning environment to help attract other apprentices through word of mouth.

·      Meet any potential hires in-person so there is face-to-face interaction.

·      Connect apprentices with a buddy so they have someone they can talk to.

·      Emphasize opportunities for personal growth and learning. Ask the apprentice about their career goals.

·      Offer employees opportunities to try out different roles within the business, even if it is just on a short-term basis.

Best practices for holding on to apprentices include:

·      Help apprentices navigate the process, the paperwork and the financial challenges.

·      Meet and communicate regularly with the apprentices.

·      Ensure each apprentice has a training plan.

·      Explain the business realities and the plans for sending apprentices to technical training so there is no confusion and the commitment to apprentice development is articulated.

·      Set up an internal website to promote communication and team-building.

·      Create loyalty incentives for the apprentices.

·      Offer incentives such as free tools if the apprentice stays two to three years.

·      Formalize the mentoring program. Put first-year apprentices with the best mentors and teachers and give the mentor a bonus to reward good mentoring in the workplace.

·      Provide opportunities for professional career development.

·      When there are down times, share the apprentices with other employers so the apprentices remain employed and continue to earn hours towards completion.

·      When there are work opportunities in different regions, ask employees if they are willing to move. Distributing the workforce may avoid lay-offs.

·      Offer help with exam preparation to improve the pass rates on the certification test.

·      Set targets such as passing the exam within a year so apprentices will be motivated to write the exam, and top up the apprentice completion grant to reward program progression.

·      Celebrate completion as a milestone.

For more tips, read the full report.