Government launches Calls for Proposals to remove barriers and get more apprentices certified in the skilled trades 

News release

August 3, 2021              Kitchener, Ontario              Employment and Social Development Canada                                    

Skilled tradespeople from across the country have been critical to essential sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic and their expertise is in high demand. This demand is expected to remain high over the next 10 years, as over 700,000 skilled trades workers are expected to retire between 2019 and 2028, creating an ever growing need to recruit and train thousands of skilled trades people. As part of the Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy, the Government is making targeted investments to remove barriers and get more Canadians the hands-on experience and apprenticeship training they need to build good, well-paying careers in the skilled trades.

Today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, launched a Call for Proposals under the new Apprenticeship Service, to support employers, as they look to hire apprentices and provide on-the-job training towards a certification in the trades. Announced in Budget 2021, the Apprenticeship Service will provide $470 million over three years, beginning in 2021-22, to help 55,000 first-year apprentices in eligible Red Seal trades connect with opportunities at small and medium-sized employers (SMEs).

Employers play a fundamental role in Canada’s apprenticeship systems, however many employers, especially smaller firms, face barriers to participation in offering apprenticeship training opportunities. Through the Apprenticeship Service Call for Proposals, selected funding recipients will distribute the financial incentives to SMEs, as well as provide additional supports, such as help navigating the apprenticeship system, onboarding apprentices, and creating welcoming workplaces. SMEs will receive up to $5,000 each for a maximum of two eligible, new first-year apprentice hires and can use the incentive to pay for upfront costs such as salaries and training. In addition, to boost diversity in the Red Seal trades, this incentive will be doubled to $10,000 for employers who hire from key groups, specifically women, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, members of the LGBTQ2+ communities, newcomers and visible minorities including Black and other racialized communities.

Minister Qualtrough made this announcement virtually with Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga, Tim Louis and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 804, who recently received over $5.4 million in funding, over the next 5 years, for their project under the Innovation in Apprenticeship Stream of the Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP). The IBEW Local 804’s project will help address complex challenges faced by their members, including women, Indigenous peoples, apprentices and journeypersons, by removing barriers to apprenticeship training. It will also support the design of an in-class training program that has an on-line component to support the ongoing certification and up-skilling requirements of members located in the Waterloo region.

As part of this virtual visit, the Minister also launched the Call for Proposals for the Investments in Training Equipment stream of the Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP). The Government is investing $7 million over three years in this Call for Proposals.

Eligible projects will help unions across Canada improve the quality of training through investments in equipment and materials. Pre-apprentices and apprentices will benefit from up-to-date, modern equipment. This Call for Proposals prioritizes projects that help pre-apprentices and apprentices to develop environmental skills in the Red Seal trades and reduce barriers to participation and success in the trades among under-represented groups.

Eligible organizations under both these calls for proposals are encouraged to submit proposals until September 14, 2021.


“Skilled tradespeople are vital to Canada’s economy and workforce. Apprenticeships are the bridge that help skilled workers, especially young people starting their careers, connect with businesses and find quality good-paying jobs. Our investments will help remove barriers and allow more Canadians get the training they need to launch exciting and rewarding careers in the trades.”
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

“Today’s announcement is about supporting skilled tradespeople, so they can continue to be a key component of Canada’s workforce. These important investments will make sure that Canadians have access to the training, work experience and supports they need to succeed in their field.”
– Tim Louis, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga

"The UTIP program has been a great success in our region, increasing diversity in the trade and leading to good paying jobs. Providing free safety training in advance has been a great benefit for apprentices and employers."
– Brian Jacobs, Business Manager, IBEW Local 814

Quick facts

  • As announced in Budget 2019, the Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy’s objective is to strengthen existing apprenticeship supports in order to:

    • promote the skilled trades as a good career option,
    • encourage the participation of underrepresented groups,
    • facilitate employer and union participation, and
    • encourage innovation in apprenticeship.
  • Through the Union Training and Innovation Program, the Government of Canada provides $25 million annually to support union-based apprenticeship training, innovation and broad-based partnerships in the Red Seal trades.

  • In 2019-2020, more than 15,000 apprentices participated in the UTIP Stream 1 projects, 67% of whom reported an increase in skills after participation. Of the total participants:

    • 5.5% were Indigenous people, exceeding the current average of Indigenous apprentices in Red Seal trades (which was at 4.5% in 2015); and
    • 6.9% were women, exceeding the current average of women apprentices in Red Seal trades where they are under-represented (which was at 4% in 2019).
  • The Government of Canada invests significantly in apprenticeship through grants, loans, tax credits, Employment Insurance benefits during in-school training, project funding and support for the Red Seal program. The Government is also working with the provinces and territories to harmonize apprenticeship training requirements in targeted Red Seal trades.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Ashley Michnowski
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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