The Canadian Apprenticeship Service (CAS) offers financial support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who hire and train new first-year apprentices in 39 Red Seal trades in the construction and industrial/manufacturing sectors. The funding was introduced in 2022 and to date over 600 employers in Nova Scotia have benefitted from it.
The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency (NSAA) is administering the program for the four Atlantic Provinces. According to a recent NSAA survey aimed at understanding the impact of the CAS financial supports, covering apprentices’ wages is top of mind for employers who have accessed the funding.
Bon-A-Builders Construction is a Membertou-based business in the Mi’kmaw community that does home construction and renovations. Over the last two years, the company has accessed the financial incentive to employ four first-year apprentices. They are keen to encourage apprentices to complete their apprenticeship and say the funding has allowed them to cover part of apprentices’ wages.
Employers surveyed also said they used the funding to offset hiring costs and provide further training. SMEs often have limited access to human resources and administrative staff to help manage an apprenticeship program. Craig McNally Contracting Services is a locally owned carpentry and contracting services business. They employed apprentices prior to accessing the CAS financial incentives, but said the funding encouraged them to assist current employees in registering as apprentices to further staff’s knowledge and career progression.
Similarly, Risser Construction, said the funding encouraged them to hire more apprentices in addition to those they already employed. “We can train and bring apprentices in early which results in longer employee retention, loyalty and pride as they grow within our company and move up the ranks,” said Barrett Risser, owner of Risser Construction.
The CAS hiring grants provide a $5,000 financial incentive to eligible employers, with an additional $5,000 issued if the apprentice is from an equity-deserving group. Employers may be eligible to receive financial incentives for hiring a maximum of two new first-year apprentices per fiscal year, to a maximum financial incentive of $20,000.
For new businesses, the funding can be instrumental. Rick Mac Donnell is the owner of Sunrise Plumbing. Mac Donnell started the business two years ago and hadn’t hired any apprentices before receiving the financial incentive. An apprentice must be supervised by a certified tradesperson (journeyperson), which can be challenging for new and small businesses as they may experience short-term productivity loss. For Mac Donnell, the financial incentive influenced his decision to hire an apprentice, which assisted in job flexibility. “It enabled me to do more work and help train [an apprentice] at the same time,” said Mac Donnell.
The CAS financial incentive is available until March 31, 2024. Eligible employers who register new first-year apprentices in the Red Seal construction and industrial/manufacturing trades by the deadline will receive the financial supports.