About the Program

What is apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is an agreement between a person (an apprentice) who wants to learn a skill and an employer who needs a skilled worker -- "earning while learning." Apprenticeship is a proven industry-based learning system that combines on-the-job experience with technical training to produce a certified journeyperson. Upon completion of the specified training period, apprentices receive a Certificate of Qualification. On average, 85% of the apprentice's training, which usually takes two to five years, is spent in the workplace; the rest is spent at a training institution.

What is a designated trade? 

Under the terms of the Canadian Constitution, each province and territory has the responsibilities for education and training which includes apprenticeship. The legislation permits each jurisdiction to designate occupations for apprenticeship.

Designated trades are governed by regulations under the Provincial and Territorial Apprenticeship Acts. These regulations outline the administrative procedures and in some cases the standards and conditions of training for specific trades (e.g. methods of registering apprentices, curriculum, accreditation, and certification).

The designation of a new trade can originate outside the provincial and territorial apprenticeship authorities. Employers, employer associations or unions can petition their provincial or territorial Director of Apprenticeship to have a trade designated. See the Industry section for more details.

Who administers apprenticeship programs?

Apprenticeship programs are generally administered by provincial and territorial departments responsible for education, labour and training (under the direction of the provincial or territorial Director of Apprenticeship) with authority delegated from the legislation in each province and territory.

The Program is supported by a network of advisory bodies, such as Apprenticeship and Certification Boards, Local Advisory Committees and Provincial Advisory Committees.

Industry-driven provincial and territorial apprenticeship training boards are major policy-making and governing bodies for apprenticeship training relating to recommendations of trade designation, curriculum requirements and regulatory aspects of trades and occupations.

Is certification compulsory or voluntary?

The skilled trades are classified as either compulsory or voluntary. Generally, compulsory trades require workers to be certified or registered as apprentices in order to work in the occupation. Voluntary trades involve voluntary apprenticeship training and certification as workers are not required to be registered or certified to work in that trade.

Even though many trades deemed compulsory in some of the jurisdictions are also Red Seal trades, it is not mandatory for a worker to obtain the Red Seal endorsement.

What is the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program?

The Red Seal Program represents industry's recognition of an interprovincial standard of excellence for the skilled trades. Through the Program, apprentices who have completed their training and become certified journeypersons are able to obtain a Red Seal endorsement on their provincial or territorial Certificates of Qualification and Apprenticeship by successfully completing an interprovincial Red Seal examination.

The Program encourages harmonization of provincial and territorial apprenticeship training and certification programs by developing and maintaining interprovincial standards of qualification for Red Seal trades, in partnership with apprenticeship and certification stakeholders. To date, there are 55 trades included in the Red Seal Program on a national basis.

Legislation permits provinces and territories to designate trades and develop apprenticeship programs for their own requirements. Thus, in excess of 300 apprenticeship programs are available across Canada. The Ellis Chart, a comparative chart of apprentice training programs across Canada, is produced by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) in collaboration and consultation with the provinces and territories and provides training and certification details for all of these apprenticeable programs.

When was the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program created?

The first National Conference on Apprenticeship in Trades and Industries, held in Ottawa in 1952, recommended that the federal government be requested to cooperate with provincial and territorial apprenticeship committees and officials in preparing analyses of a number of skilled trades. To this end, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) sponsors a program, under the guidance of the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA), to develop a series of national occupational analyses.

Who administers the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program and how does it work?

The Program is administered in each province and territory under the guidance of the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA). Each province and territory has an appointed Director of Apprenticeship for this purpose.

A national occupational analysis, developed for each Red Seal trade, identifies all the tasks performed in the trade and is used as a base document for the development of interprovincial standard examinations and is encouraged to be used by the provinces and territories for curriculum development.

Continuing efforts are underway both to expand the Program and to streamline the existing process to develop and revise national occupational analyses and examinations.

How to obtain a Red Seal?

In certain trades, holders of provincial and territorial Certificates of Qualification can apply to write an Interprovincial Examination; if successful, they receive a distinctive Red Seal, which is affixed to their Certificate of Qualification.

An Interprovincial Standards Red Seal can be obtained in the trades designated as Red Seal by:

The Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Examinations are administered through the provincial and territorial certification and apprenticeship offices.

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