How Apprenticeship Works

Apprenticeship is a form of post-secondary education for both young and mature individuals who want to become certified to work in a skilled trade. It is a combination of on‑the‑job and technical training where skilled trades professionals (certified journeypersons) pass on knowledge and skills to learners (apprentices).

Apprenticeship begins with a contractual agreement between an apprentice and an employer. The apprentice agrees to work for the employer as a paid employee who will also receive supervised, on-the-job training and experience and the opportunity to participate in the necessary technical training. In the workplace, apprentices are supervised by a certified journeyperson who tracks both their hours and competencies in the practical skills of the trade. 

Apprenticeship offers an affordable pathway to trade certification. Apprentices earn a wage while they are working and participate in tuition-free technical training, with financial supports available. There are currently 70 recognized trades in Nova Scotia in the construction, motive power, industrial/manufacturing and service industry sectors.

In Nova Scotia, apprenticeship is operated under the authority of the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency. The Agency partners with industry, community organizations and equity-seeking groups to promote apprenticeship opportunities, support apprentices in their journey to certification and ensure the trades-specific training is responsive to the needs of industry and the labour market.

 Credit for Prior Work Experience and Training

Apprentices with prior workplace experience or training may be eligible to receive advanced credit towards an apprenticeship program.

At the time of registration, an apprentice may apply for credit of prior workplace experience, measured in hours. The apprentice must provide support documentation in the form of employer letters. The letters must be from previous employers and be on company letterhead, indicating the employment dates (to and from), total number of hours worked and the scope of work performed. Nova Scotia may accept an affidavit or a statutory declaration in lieu of employer letters in certain circumstances.

Additionally, at the time of registration, an apprentice may apply for credit of theory and practical experience (hours) gained from pre-employment technical training. Nova Scotia will recognize approved programs; however, the apprentice must be made aware that they may have gaps in their training that may need to be addressed.

Register as an Apprentice

To become an apprentice, you need to have a job working with a certified journeyperson. Registering as an apprentice involves a contract that is signed both by the apprentice and the employer; a mutual commitment made with the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency to work; and training towards earning a Certificate of Qualification in one of Nova Scotia's designated trades.