Apprentice training pays off for employers: Study

Heavy duty equipment mechanics, boilermakers and machinists yield highest ROI
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 11/09/2010

Employers reap significant benefits from investing in apprenticeship training, according to a new study.

The Canadian Apprenticeship forum surveyed more than 2,000 employers with journeypersons and/or apprentices in 16 skilled trades for the study It Pays to Hire an Apprentice: Calculating the Return on Training Investment for Employers in Canada.

The study found employers receive, on average, a benefit of $1.47 for every $1 invested in apprenticeship training. This is up nine cents since a 2006 pilot study.

The 16 trades examined are: automotive service technician, bricklayer, construction electrician, construction millwright and industrial mechanic, cook, heavy-duty equipment technician, machinist, motor vehicle body repairer, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic, sheet metal worker, boilermaker, cabinetmaker, electrical power line and cable worker, hairstylist, plumber and partsperson.

Employers saw the biggest return for heavy duty equipment mechanics, at $1.97 for every $1 invested. Boilermakers ($1.92) and machinists ($1.87) had the next highest return on investment.

Only hairstylists and electrical power line and cable workers saw a negative return on investment.

The majority of employers believe a “homegrown” journeyperson who they trained as an apprentice is more productive. Employers estimated that such a journeyperson is 29 per cent more productive.

"Additional benefits to hiring apprentices include having employees which are a better fit with the organization and reduced risk of skills shortages," stated the report.

The report found the net benefit of apprenticeship training, and revenue generated by an apprentice, increase in each year over the course of the apprenticeship period. Also, the cost in terms of journeyperson time declines through each year of the apprenticeship.

The findings reinforce what many employers have discovered for themselves, said Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association.

"The very need for such a study, however, suggests that there are still too many employers out there who do not do their part to train and develop their future workforce and who are missing out on the tremendous benefits employing apprentices can provide them," said Atkinson.

In the current economic climate, maximizing business performance is crucial. Employers that participated in the study indicated apprenticeship training results in benefits for journeypersons, reduced risk of skills shortages, greater overall productivity, better relations with customers, fewer mistakes and better health and safety performance.

The report found there might be a shortage of apprentices, with 30 per cent of employers without apprentices indicating they would hire apprentices if they could find them. Also, 14 per cent of employers who hired journeypersons, but did not hire apprentices, indicate they would be willing to hire an apprentice but there were few or no apprentices applying to their organization.

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