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Ontario’s screwed up apprenticeship ratios: Is IBEW “a closed shop catering to sons or daughters of members?”

Sean Gander details just how far his son went trying to break into the electrical field. He says the IBEW treated his son unfairly. Does this sound like a fair system to you?


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June 29, 2018 by canadiancontractor

NEWS FLASH: Apprenticeship ratios in Ontario are screwed up. As they in some other provinces. In a recent post, John Bleasby wondered if the Ontario version of this mess will be fixed by the incoming PC government led by Doug Ford.

We got a bunch of comments on this issue…

It’s almost impossible for a young person to get an apprenticeship unless they know someone important .

My son wanted to be an electrician when he finished Grade 12. He took an electrical course at community college and then we tried the IBEW in Kitchener, ON. They said if I was an electrician they could put him on the waiting list! I am a millwright.

So I took him to the IBEW in Hamilton. They put him through safety courses, etc. and they said they would put him on the list. We never heard back from either IBEW.

It all seems to be a closed shop catering to sons or daughters of members. I know people that applied after my son but their parents were members and they managed to get an apprenticeship. Yet my son was still never called and kept calling the IBEW for updates. He finally managed to get in as a millwright where I worked .

When I did my apprenticeship, the ratio was two tradesmen for every apprentice. I had options as to trade choices as there were so many companies looking to train apprentices in the UK.

Here, the government needs to offer incentives to companies training apprentices.

I remember a few feeble attempts at government programs for apprentices where the government would offer wage incentives to companies for, I believe, 18 months. The company I was at then laid the apprentices off after 18 months and only used them for cheap labour. They never bothered training them for anything.

Sean Gander


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Canadian Contractor is the independent voice of residential renovators and home builders everywhere in Canada.
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3 Comments » for Ontario’s screwed up apprenticeship ratios: Is IBEW “a closed shop catering to sons or daughters of members?”
  1. luc charles says:

    Good luck trying to get in at IBEW. It’s inconceivable that they have so much power to screw people over without retributions. Don’t bother going to LRB as is stacked with union leaders. I am hoping that the Conservative government put this union and all others in their place. At one time, the unions had a job to do to reign in the unfair employers. But today, they are the source of greed and nothing else.I speak through experience as they organized in my shop under unfair and crooked means.Lied and cheated both myself and the employees who wanted nothing to do with the union.In a perfect world, the unions would do what they were born to do. Help people not themselves and their friends and family.

  2. Alex says:

    I have myself a 3 advanced degree in Electrical Engineering Techniques from which I graduated with distinction. Any apprenticeships? Noo, maybe few years a labour, without the hours. Not a guy addicted to the phone, and I can sweat it, not afraid of the elbow grease but two years into looking to land an apprenticeship is wearing me thin. I am starting to think that school was a waste of time.
    Alex Goorskhee.

    • Guy says:

      My advice would be to network. Just like any job, it helps to know someone. Same for unions. I had been looking for an apprentice opportunity for a year and a half. I’m in the door now, but it took me pouring through my network of friends and family to find degrees of connection to electricians, introduce myself chat with them and build rapport. I manufactured relationships as you have to do in every other job. They also don’t care if you went to school, because they will teach you what you need to know during your apprenticeship. A lot of people feel entitled to jobs because they are educated, and a lot of people don’t know that the union (my local) receives 1200 apprentice applications per year. They bring in people who they have a character reference for. People they know. Don’t take it personally, just do what you can to be known.