How to Prepare for a Trades Apprenticeship After Highschool
Are you planning to apprentice in a trade after graduation? If that’s your goal, it’s a good idea to start organizing yourself during your highschool years to make sure that you have everything you need to transition smoothly from school into your training.
Choose Your Trade
Before you can start an apprenticeship, you need to know which trade you want to pursue. Apprenticeships are available for most trades, so whether you’re interested in becoming an auto mechanic, hairstylist, chef, dental hygienist, or something else, you can find an apprenticeship.
If you haven’t chosen a trade, explore different trades online to see which ones might fit with your interests and skills. Your high school’s guidance counsellor will also be able to provide you with information on different trades and help you decide which path will suit you the best. Your high school will also help you arrange a co-op placement with a local business, which gives you the opportunity to try working in a specific trade to see if you find it interesting and enjoyable enough to do as your full-time career.
Do Your Research
Once you choose your trade, it’s time to learn everything you need to know about completing an apprenticeship for that trade. There are lots of places to look for this information, including your guidance counsellor, your province’s youth employment website, and with the local and national organizations for your chosen trade. You can also speak with someone you know who works in a trade that interests you, so they can share what it’s like to work in that trade.
Use this research to get familiar with the requirements of your trade, including which high school credits you need, which skills or abilities you should have, and what the employment options are once you are finished with your apprenticeship.
Some questions you should answer include:
- Do you need any previous work experience, or specific high school course credits?
- What are the main skills and strengths this trade requires?
- What are the potential salary earnings in this trade?
- Where are tradespeople in your trade employed; for example, as independent contractors, or with large companies.
- Are their local opportunities for your apprenticeship, or will you need to relocate to a different town or city?
- Are there scholarships or grants available to cover the costs of courses and tools?
- What is required for the apprenticeship application process
- Arrange What You Need For Your Apprenticeship Application
Once you know your future trade inside and out, it’s time to make sure you have everything you need to apply to your apprenticeship.
If you are still in high school, first make sure you are taking credits that support the skills required for your apprenticeship. There are a number of industries that have associated Specialist High Skills Majors available for high school students, which includes a bundle of 8-10 credits and co-op placements geared toward preparing students to work in a specific industry.
It is also possible to start on your apprenticeship path through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. This program helps connect students in grades 11 and 12 with work placements that count as co-operative education credits toward your diploma. These give you the chance to begin your hands-on training while still finishing school, and can be a pipeline to a full-time apprenticeship after graduation.
You need to find a sponsor who will lead your apprenticeship training. This can be an individual, such as an independent contractor, or a company who will then assign you to a team or mentor who will train you. If you participate in a co-op and plan to continue that trade, there’s a good chance your co-op placement will be willing to take you on as an apprentice. If you need to find a sponsor, the guidance counsellors, government job banks and employment offices, unions and trade associations, and career fairs are all resources you can use to find an employment sponsor.