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Registered apprenticeship training programs, 2015

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Released: 2017-06-27

Both the 2008-2009 recession and the more recent 2014-2015 oil price decline had a major impact on new registrations in apprenticeship training programs in Canada. This was especially true in Alberta, where new registrations fell in both periods.

New data from the Registered Apprenticeship Information System show that, as of 2015, there were more than 453,500 registrations for apprenticeship programs in Canada. Of this total, over 7,100 were reinstatements of previous registrants, while new registrations accounted for about 79,700.

New registrations in apprenticeship programs see double-digit rise over the last 10 years

Apprenticeship training programs play a key role in preparing Canadians for a career in the trades. Through this training, tradespeople acquire the skills to support industries that drive Canada's economy.

From 2005 to 2015, the number of annual new registrations increased 13% to over 79,700. But there were fluctuations over the 10-year period. In particular, there were two instances when new registrations declined. First, there was a decline in the number from 2008 to 2009, followed by a second decline from 2014 to 2015. In each case, a drop of about 14,000 new registrations was observed compared with the previous year. These two declines coincided with periods of economic decline.

Both times, as well, over half the decrease in new registrations occurred in Alberta. From 2008 to 2009, there was a decrease in Alberta among most of the major trade groups, with the greatest decline among new registrations for electricians, the plumbers, steamfitters and pipefitters group of trades, and select oil and gas trades. At the same time, Alberta's unemployment rate nearly doubled during the 2008-2009 recession, thereby impacting the availability of apprenticeship positions in the province.

A similar decrease in new registrations was recorded from 2014 to 2015, as Alberta's economy adjusted to the decline in crude oil prices. Most major trade groups in Alberta experienced a drop in new registrations, particularly electricians and welders, and within the plumbers, steamfitters and pipefitters group.

Despite modest gains, women are still underrepresented in apprenticeships

Women continue to be underrepresented among apprentices, accounting for 14% of newly registered apprentices in 2015, up slightly from 11% in 2005.

Women who register for apprenticeship programs tend to be concentrated in a small number of trades. Among new registrations in 2015, there was a higher percentage of women than men in 4 of 24 major trade groups, including: early childhood educators and assistants; hairstylists and estheticians; community and social service workers and user support technicians.

From 2005 to 2015, however, more women pursued apprenticeship programs beyond the trades of hairstylists and estheticians, and early childhood educators. Specifically, the percentage of new registrations for female apprentices decreased among hairstylists and estheticians (from 48% to 30%) and among early childhood educators (from 12% to 8%), while it increased in such trades as food services (from 13% to 19%) and, to a modest extent, electricians (3% to 5%).

There are multiple reasons for why fewer women than men register as apprentices. According to the 2015 National Apprenticeship Survey, personal and family issues were the main reasons for why women who started out in an apprenticeship program decided not to continue.

Red Seal-designated trades account for the majority of registrations

The Interprovincial Red Seal Program, which covers trades including construction electricians, carpenters, and automotive service technicians, is the Canadian standard for skilled trades and allows tradespeople to have their skills recognized across the country. In 2015, the majority of all registrations, new, reinstated and ongoing (78%), were in apprenticeship programs for which the associated trade has a Red Seal designation.

Among the Red Seal trades, construction electricians, carpenters, and automotive service technicians accounted for 28% of total registrations, and 34% of new ones in 2015.

Many certificates granted in 2015 had the Red Seal designation

In 2015, over 56,600 certificates were awarded to individuals who completed the necessary steps to become qualified in a trade. Of those, 69% were issued to apprentices, while 31% were issued to trade qualifiers. Moreover, 45% of the certificates granted in 2015 had the Red Seal designation.

  Note to readers


The provinces and territories, which provide the data for this release, make operational and administrative changes related to the training and certification of the trades within their jurisdictions. Changes have occurred in every province and territory since 1991 that affect historical comparisons. For the 2013 and 2014 reporting periods in particular, these changes substantially affected all data collected by the survey, including the number of registrations, participation in Red Seal and non-Red Seal apprenticeship programs, and certificates awarded. Interpretation of the data should be made within the context of these administrative and operational changes. For further information on federal, provincial and territorial changes, see the Registered Apprenticeship Information System Guide.

Designated trades

Apprenticeship training and trade qualifications in Canada are governed by the provincial and territorial jurisdictions. These jurisdictions determine the trades for which apprenticeship training is made available, as well as the trades for which certificates are granted. These are referred to as designated trades. The jurisdictions also determine which of the designated trades require certification in order to work unsupervised in the trade. The list of designated trades varies considerably between the jurisdictions. Data from the Registered Apprenticeship Information System includes only those trades that are designated in at least one province or territory.

Registered apprentices are persons who are in a supervised work training program in a designated trade within their provincial or territorial jurisdictions. The apprentice must be registered with the appropriate governing body (usually a ministry of education or labour, or a trade specific industry governing body) to complete the training.

Trade qualifiers or trade challengers are persons who have worked in a specific trade for an extended period of time, without necessarily having ever been an apprentice, and who have received certification from a jurisdiction. This is usually done via a skills assessment examination in the trade.


"Total registrations" in apprenticeship programs is the count of any registrations that occurred during the reporting period (from January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2015) within the 13 jurisdictions.

Total registrations: Total number of registrations who were carried forward from the previous year, new registrations and reinstatements.

Already registered: The number of registrations carried forward from the previous year.

New registrations: New entrants to any apprenticeship program within the 12-month reporting period.

Reinstatements: Registrations by people who had left an apprenticeship program in a specific trade in a previous year and had returned to the same apprenticeship program during the reporting period.

Red Seal and non-Red Seal Programs

The Red Seal Program sets common standards to assess the skills of tradespersons across Canada in specific trades, referred to as the "Red Seal" trades. Tradespersons who meet the Red Seal standards, through examination, receive a Red Seal endorsement on their provincial/territorial trade certificates.

Non-Red Seal trades, meanwhile, do not have interprovincial standards. Many non-Red Seal trades do not have an examination requirement in order to work in the trade.


The requirements for granting a certificate varies by jurisdiction in Canada. In most instances, an apprentice is issued a certificate if he or she completes such requirements as supervised on-the-job training, technical training as well as passing one or more examinations. Most trade qualifiers, meanwhile, become certified once they pass an examination.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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