Red Seal Standards Key to Successful Trades Apprenticeship Program

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National standard recognized as stamp of approval

Few people outside of the skilled trades know about the Red Seal Program – but they should.

The Red Seal Program was developed to create standards for skills and training, and to help skilled tradespeople go where they’re needed across Canada.

Employers trust the Red Seal Program, especially in knowledge-based trades like the electrical trades. According to Red Seal statistics²:

  • 92% of Canadian private sector electrical contractors have a Red Seal certification.
  • 74% consider a Red Seal a moderate or strong hiring advantage.

Industry-Driven Standards

Michael Barnett is Chair of the Stakeholder Relations Committee of the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA). The CCDA is responsible for the management and delivery of the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program.

“Industry drives the standards set by the Red Seal Program,” says Barnett.

He notes that the program has many benefits for contractors. “Employers can be confident in the skills of the apprentices and certified tradespeople available in the workforce. They know they have been put through a comparable training program, and are accountable to the same standards.”

A lot of communication with industry helps ensure that the trades, especially those where technology evolves rapidly, stay up to date.

“It’s a two-way street – industry can contact us and we reach out to them,” says Barnett. “We often consult with them with things like surveys, especially if we know there’s going to be impact from a technological change.”

He adds, “There are also regular national workshops, attended by employers, skilled tradespeople, and training providers who are concerned about safety as much as the bottom line. Government officials facilitate, but it’s industry who are the decision makers.”

“The fact that an apprentice has been trained in the latest technology can also help make the industry more efficient as a whole…”

– Michael Barnett, CCDA

Attracting More Apprentices to the Skilled Trades

The Red Seal Program offers advantages for apprentices as well, making them more attractive to employers.

Barnett notes, “The fact that an apprentice has been trained in the latest technology can also help make the industry more efficient as a whole. Apprentices will be able to do more, so there’s not as many ‘holes’ left by retiring electricians to fill.”

The Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario and the IBEW Construction Council of Ontario are also advocates of the Red Seal Program particularly in the electrical industry to ensure high standards in the the trade and to ensure apprentices see the trades as a career worth pursuing.

“Historically, perception has been that the trades are considered less desirable as a career choice – many people think that to make money a university degree is needed,” says Barnett. “We are trying to dispel that myth, and show the value of the skilled trades as a post-secondary education pathway.”

With continued outreach, many provinces including Ontario hope to attract more apprentices to the skilled trades. Barnett says, “Our goal is continuing to promote that the trades are challenging, valuable, and rewarding.”