MRO Magazine

Enrolment in apprenticeship training jumps in every major trade group

Ottawa, ON -- A nationwide construction boom helped push registrations in apprenticeship training programs to a rec...

Human Resources

November 27, 2006
By MRO Magazine

Ottawa, ON — A nationwide construction boom helped push registrations in apprenticeship training programs to a record in 2004, making this the ninth consecutive gain, according to Statistics Canada.

A record 267,775 men and women registered for training programs, up 6.8% or 16,980 from the previous year.

Enrolment jumped in every major trade group. Since 1999, apprenticeship registrations have increased by 81,390, or 43.7%, fuelled by growth in the building construction, and the electrical, electronics and related groups.

The building construction group contributed 40% of the total increase in apprentices in 2004.


Municipalities issued a record $55.6 billion in overall building permits in 2004, including residential and non-residential projects. There were record high permits in the residential sector with strong advances in both single- and multi-family dwelling components.

A near record high of 19,705 individuals completed their registered apprenticeship training, up by 1,185, or 6.4%, from 2003. The metal fabricating trades accounted for about a quarter of the completions.

The average age of 30 years for registered apprentices has remained stable since 1994. The proportion of apprentices in the combined age groups 25 to 39 declined over the same period, while the shares for all other age groups have risen.

The proportion of females in apprenticeship training edged up from 8.4% in 1999 to 9.6% in 2004. The food and services group had 63.2% of all female apprentices.


Four fields (building construction trades; metal fabricating trades; electrical, electronics and related trades; and motor vehicle and heavy equipment) accounted for about 80% of total registrations in 2004. Of the 16,980 new apprentices, about 87% came from these top four.

Since 2001, the building construction field has had the highest gains among major trade groups. It became the largest in 2003, reflecting the construction industry’s boom since 2001, especially in residential construction.

Registrations rose 3.7% to 54,655 in metal fabricating trades, the second largest trade group. Its gain of 1,960 trainees accounted for 11.5% of overall growth.

The electrical, electronics and related field and the motor vehicle and heavy equipment field each accounted for about 17.5% of the total growth. In the motor vehicle and heavy equipment trades, the number of trainees rose 5.9% to 52,835.

Ontario, Quebec and Alberta accounted for 77.4% of overall registrations. Ontario had nearly 35%, or 92,895 apprentices, while Quebec and Alberta each had one-fifth of total registrations.

The number of apprentices in Ontario rose 8.8% from 2003, while Quebec’s total grew by 12.5%. Alberta’s registrations remained stable over the previous year. Prince Edward Island and British Columbia also gained new trainees.

Most of the Atlantic provinces recorded a decline in registrations. Those in Nova Scotia fell by 5.1%, those in Newfoundland and Labrador by 4.3%, and those in New Brunswick by 3.1%. In the West, Saskatchewan and Manitoba had slight declines.


Except for a decrease in 2002, apprenticeship completions have otherwise remained stable between 1999 and 2003. In 2004, completions grew by 6.4%.

Completions in the electrical, electronics and related trades surged 24.2%, or a gain of 685. This increase accounted for 57.8% of the net gain in total completions. The field had a total of 3,520 completions.

The number of new apprentices completing their programs in the metal fabricating group increased by 340, or 7.6%. This field had 4,785 completions, about a quarter of the overall total.

Certificates in the building construction group rose by only 1.6%, while their registrations have been growing significantly since 1998.

The only decline in completions occurred in the motor vehicle and heavy equipment group, where they fell 3.4%. Completions in this field totalled 4,130, about a fifth of all apprenticeship certificates.

The number of women receiving certificates increased by 165 to 2,185, representing about 11% of all completions. The food and services group had the highest proportion of women (75.7%) receiving certificates.

The largest three provinces for apprentices, Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, all had an increase in completions; combined, they continued to account for about three-quarters of total certificates. Completions rose by 15.9% in Ontario, 11.4% in Quebec and 8.3% in Alberta.

In the Atlantic provinces, completions in Prince Edward Island grew by over two-thirds and Nova Scotia by 14%, while in the West, Manitoba gained 6.5%.

Completions fell in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador.


The number of registrations increased across all age groups. While the combined age groups 20 to 29 accounted for half of apprentices, proportions increased fastest in the groups under 20 and over 50. The under 20 group had a 14.9% increase in trainees, while the 50 and over group grew by 11.7%.

From 1994 to 2004, the age groups under 25 increased their share from 26.8% to 33.6% of overall registrations. The 40 and over age groups accounted for 17% of registrations, up from 10.2%.

Completions in 2004 increased across all ages, except in the 50 and over group, where they fell 10.3%. Completions in the age group 40 to 44 rose 15.1%, the fastest rate of growth.

More than one-half of the total completers were still in their 20s. The share of completers aged 40 and over almost doubled between 1994 and 2004.


Data on registered apprenticeship training for 2004 were obtained using information from the Registered Apprenticeship Information System. It covers both registrations and completions.

Total registered includes the still registered from the previous year plus the newly registered apprentices from the current year and excludes apprentices that have completed or discontinued. In most provinces, registered apprenticeship training combines on-the-job experience with periods of in-class technical training.

Apprenticeship programs, depending on the trade or occupation, vary in duration from two to five years. However, it is relatively common for apprenticeship training to extend beyond the required duration.