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Apprenticeship is the most widely used system for training skilled tradespeople. The training of skilled workers dates back to as early as 18th century BC in Babylon. Training for specific trades and crafts was introduced in Europe in the Middle Ages, and from the 11th to 15th centuries, commercial, craft, and merchant guilds spread throughout Europe. During the 19th century, unions were created to protect the interests and rights of each of the trades, and the first documented apprenticeship agreement was created in 1899.

During the 20th century, National Occupational Analyses were created, and the apprenticeship system was formalized in every Canadian province. At the start of the 21st century, the major focus shifted to attracting more individuals to the trades to fill the large void that is expected to grow through 2030 because of the retirement of most baby boomers. Another focus has been on creating greater mobility between provinces for journeypersons and apprentices, and greater harmonization and a look toward a pan-Canadian vision of trades training.

This Competency provides the information necessary for you to understand the trades training system and how to explore any trades you may be interested in. Careers in the trades can be highly rewarding. Forecast shortages in skilled trades mean that there will be significant opportunities for new workers to enter many of the trades.

Learning Objectives

When you have completed the Learning Tasks in this Competency, you should be able to:

  • describe the apprenticeship system
  • describe the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program


Resources icon.You will be required to reference publications and videos available online.

Media Attributions



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