$2000 grant comes with some strings attached
Apprenticeship grant only for Red Seal trades
Registered apprentices who have completed their first or second year of training can now apply for a federal Apprenticeship Incentive Grant worth $1,000 per year for two years.
[ 2007-10-17 ]
But just as there's no such thing as a free lunch, nor is there any government grant that comes without strings attached.
For one thing, the cash grant is taxable, which means it has to be declared as income in the same way as wages are. Similarly, recipients of the AIG can't spend the money how they see fit -- however behind they might be with the rent. It has to be used for tuition, travel, tool costs or other expenses that help apprentices to finish their training and obtain their Red Seal certification, which will allow them to practice their trade anywhere in Canada.
That qualification is highly desirable, of course, but it represents a barrier for the one in five apprentices who aren't enrolled in a Red Seal program because they are disqualified from applying. Still, for the other four out of five -- those training to become plumbers, carpenters, sheet metal workers, millwrights, bakers, cooks and hairstylists among other occupations -- $2,000 is worth having.
That's a point Mary Lawson makes. Lawson, executive-in-residence in the Faculty of Technology at George Brown College and the owner of Dale Rose Country, a residential homebuilder and renovator, says $2,000 is a handy sum. "It counts; it's not to be sneezed at," Lawson says.
But, she continues, the AIG is by no means the last word in fixing what ails the province's apprenticeship schemes. "What it (the AIG) doesn't cover is residential trades and a number of the skills the industry says they need."
As an example, says Lawson, who sits on the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, framing has been separated from carpentry in B.C. and is now recognized as a individual trade, but another province or two has to follow the West Coast lead before framing apprentices can be eligible for Red Seal approval, and thus an incentive grant.
Another bugaboo for Lawson is the application process itself, which she finds cumbersome. So although it's public money that's being handed out, and certain requirements have to be met as a result, it's hard to disagree with her that there are many hoops to jump through.
Applicants have to be: Canadian citizens, residents or protected persons; out of high school; a registered apprentice with an employer, a training trust fund, a union training centre, a joint apprenticeship training committee or an apprenticeship authority; and be able to show progress within an eligible apprenticeship program by proving that they have successfully completed either their first or second year/level (or equivalent) by providing supporting documents.
Despite Lawson's reservations about the AIG, Patrick Dillon, business manager for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario and a member of the Board of the Construction Sector Council, talks up the AIG.
In a statement issued this summer following the grant's official launch, Dillon said the AIG and co-operation among different levels of government and the construction industry are good signs for the industry.
"... We can and will provide many Canadian youth with career opportunities that will go a long way in meeting Ontario's construction skilled trades needs for future years," he said.
That may be true, but Lawson remains unconvinced. She says incentive grant or not, the number one problem in the construction industry is that there just aren't enough journeymen and women with whom apprentices can be placed.
- The AIG is worth $1,000 per year for two years.
- The incentive grant is taxable.
- Apprentices can only use the money for tools, tuition, travel or certain other expenses.
- Only apprentices registered in an interprovincial Red Seal program may apply.