The recent launch of the Canada Apprentice Loan stands to help overcome one of the key barriers apprentices face to returning to technical training, according to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA).
“Apprentices across Canada identify financial hardship as a barrier to progressing in their trade. Targeted student loan assistance stands to ensure this challenge doesn’t prevent apprentices from returning to school,” said Sarah Watts-Rynard, executive director at CAF-FCA.
Technical training, which in most cases is delivered in rotation with hours spent gaining on-the-job experience, requires apprentices to forego their paycheque for several weeks while they attend training at a post-secondary institution or union training centre. The Canada Apprentice Loan gives Red Seal apprentices access to up to $4,000 per block of technical training as an interest-free loan, money which can be used to offset living and educational expenses.
“The federal government’s announcement is a reflection of the critical role of the skilled trades to Canada’s economy,” noted Watts-Rynard. “Apprenticeship remains the best way to develop highly-skilled tradespeople with the expertise required by employers, but we need to address the very real barriers to completing technical education and achieving certification.”
The Canada Apprentice Loan also helps correct the misperception of apprenticeship as a second-tier option, sending a message to young people and their parents that apprenticeship is a valued post-secondary pathway leading to a rewarding career in high-demand professions.
“Apprentices are post-secondary learners who are developing practical, hands-on skills with which they can build a long, well-paid career. The loan program sends an implicit message that, like college and university students, we want to see you succeed. Your certification is an important achievement – the foundation for career that we value in Canada,” Watts-Rynard added.