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Research Article

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Disability, Apprenticeship Access, Outcomes, and Future Income Earnings

May 2024

Authors: Robert S. Brown (York University), David Walters (University of Guelph), Gillian Parekh (York University), Ryan Collis (York University), Christine Mishra (University of Toronto), Firrisaa Abdulkarim (York University)

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Executive Summary

This report is the first in a three-part series. To view the second report, click here. To view the third report, click here. 

The purpose of this report is to provide a detailed examination of apprentices who started Grade 9 between 2003 and 2009 in the Toronto District School Board. The analyses involve a comprehensive set of descriptive statistics that also includes those who did not graduate from high school or postsecondary programs. We also performed a series of regression models to predict earnings among apprenticeship graduates, while also controlling for important sociodemographic predictors, including high school performance. These analyses include those who graduated from the TDSB and: (a) did not go to college or university; (b) graduated from university; (c) graduated from community colleges; and (d) graduated from university or college but transferred across postsecondary institutions. Central to these analyses is a comparative focus on the school-to-work transitions of students with disabilities. 


  • Equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility

Key Findings

The results of this study reveal that while graduates with Red Seal certificates clearly earn more than all other groups in our analyses, graduates of non-Red Seal programs and continuers who have not yet received their certificates also have earnings that are comparable to those who completed university undergraduate degree programs. It is important to note that we have examined only early career earnings; we do not know if apprenticeship certificate holders will continue to have earnings comparable to university graduates as their careers progress. We also found that students with disabilities enter apprenticeship programs at higher rates than college or university programs, and our regression analyses reveal that the difference in earnings between those with and without disabilities is negligible among those who enter trades programs, both Red Seal and non-Red Seal. In contrast, there is a sizable gap in earnings between those with and without disabilities among community college graduates, and especially among university degree holders. These findings hold even after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and academic performance. The limitations of our study and suggestions for future research are discussed.