Trading Places: The Flow of Students into and out of Apprenticeship Programs

Dr. Nicole Malette
Dr. Karen Robson
Reference Number
2021-42 or R2142

Apprenticeships provide alternative education pathways for a significant proportion of the Canadian population. In 2019 there were 77,573 Canadians enrolled in apprenticeship programs (Statistics Canada, 2019). A typical apprenticeship involves a contract between an employer and a student, under which the student agrees to receive a relatively low wage in return for training from one or two journeypersons (Gunderson & Krashinsky, 2015). Provincial governments and private industries continually favor the expansion of apprenticeship programming (Brown, 2020; CBC, 2020). However, there remains a decline in the number of students enrolling and completing apprenticeships over the past decade (Statistics Canada, 2020). Despite employment and economic growth in recent years, the number of newly certified tradespersons through apprenticeships declined 3.9% in 2019 (Statistics Canada, 2020). Changes to the Canadian economy contribute to this drop, including an expanding knowledge economy and local economic instability. However, little is known about the reasons students transfer into apprenticeship programs or the educational pathways of former apprenticeship students. Similarly, very little is known in Canada about students with university or college education who transfer into apprenticeship programs, either before or after completing their degrees/diplomas. There is no national database on these transfer pathways or on the ability to apply credits across programming (Missaghian, 2020). Although a small but growing literature on this phenomenon in Europe (see Pilz, 2009; Fuller & Unwin, 2012; Dismore, 2014), no study to date has explored the transfer process of moving between apprenticeships and college/university – in either direction.