Just how beneficial hiring an apprentice is for employers?

Despite benefits of hiring apprentices, employers cite several challenges to doing so, finds report

Just how beneficial hiring an apprentice is for employers?

Hiring an apprentice is a fruitful business venture for companies, according to a recent report.

For every $1 an employer invests in training an apprentice, they gain $1.36 back, according to a study that incorporated data from studies completed in 2008 and 2009 by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA), a survey of 533 employers conducted in July 2022 and another survey of 421 employers conducted in September 2022.

The study is funded by the British Columbia government and CAF-FCA.

In looking at 13 different trades, the survey found that only investments for apprentice hair stylists yield negative results (Employers get back $0.65 for every $1 spent).


Return for every $1 spent

Motor Vehicle Body Repairer


Sheet Metal Worker




Industrial Mechanic (Millwright)


Construction Electrician


Heavy Duty Equipment Technician/Mechanic




Automotive Service Technician


Industrial Electrician


Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic






Excluding data for hairstylists, employers’ return on investment (ROI) for apprentices equates to $1.42 for every $1.

“Building a stronger B.C. means supporting the people who build our province,” says Selina Robinson, B.C.’s minister of post-secondary education and future skills. “This research shows how essential apprentices are to address the skills gap. This study demonstrates the value apprentices bring to employers and our economy, and helps inform employers looking to attract and retain more apprentices to meet our labour needs.”

The costs of training an apprentice are largely attributed to the apprentice wage and benefits (66 per cent), and journeyperson time spent training or supervising (30 per cent), according to the report. Costs related to management of the apprentice and wastage of materials were relatively low, representing about one per cent each of total costs.

Only a few employers can definitively say that they are measuring the ROI of their investments in training workers, according to a previous report.

Poaching of apprentices

One thing that may be preventing employers from hiring apprentices is the threat of poaching, according to the study titled Apprentices benefit employers during training in B.C.

In fact, while 67 per cent of employers feel the risk of poaching was a “somewhat serious” or “not a serious” problem, 33 per cent say it is a “very serious” problem.

Despite this, only seven per cent of employers report that apprentices leave the organization within one year of completing training.

More than half (51 per cent) report that apprentices tend to stay with their organization for one to five years, while 42 per cent say that apprentices stay with the organization for five or more years after completing their training.

Nearly one in two frontline employees would be willing to stay with their organization for more than a decade if they receive better career guidance and training from their employer, according to a recent report.

“Engaging in apprenticeship programs is an effective investment in business growth and future generations of skilled-trades talents,” says Shelley Gray, CEO, SkilledTradesBC. The latest study reaffirms that apprenticeships not only cultivate a strong and sustainable workforce but also offer positive financial return on investment, bolstering business resilience in the evolving market.”

Challenges to apprenticeship

Despite these benefits, employers cite numerous reasons for not hiring apprentices, including:

  • not enough apprentices / no-one applies to job postings (32 per cent)
  • apprentices require too much of the journeyperson’s time (24 per cent)
  • not enough continuous contracts to sustain apprenticeships (23 per cent)
  • insufficient journeypersons to supervise apprentices (18 per cent)

What would encourage employers to hire apprentices? They cite the following:

  • more apprentices / They would hire apprentices if they could find them (42 per cent)
  • more financial support (35 per cent)
  • more tax credits (28 per cent)
  • more accessible avenues to get in contact with potential apprentices (25 per cent)
  • better understanding of how to hire apprentices, including better understanding of where to find required paperwork and how to fill it out (25 per cent)
  • more liaison and coordination support provided by the government, a non-profit organization or an employer association (17 per cent)
  • more assistance with pre-screening candidates so they better meet my needs as an employer (17 per cent)

Recently, the federal government officially started accepting applications from employers for Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) 2024.

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