June 15, 2010
By Sally Harvey CLT, CLP
Education and Labour Development Department

Sally HarveyIn order to build a highly skilled and productive work force, the landscape industry needs to embrace continuing and post-secondary education and training opportunities that include, but that are not limited to, apprenticeship, certification, and college or university diploma programs.

Employers will be more successful if they and their staff are skilled and possess certificates which prove competency. Recently we have seen an increasing number of questions from members about apprenticeship and which certifications are available. The following is a simple explanation of the apprenticeship and certification opportunities.

Apprenticeship pays

According to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forums (CAF-FCA) research, an employer can receive is $1.47 for every dollar invested in apprenticeship training. With the new training tax credits and incentives (granted on becoming a Red Seal trade), it makes solid business sense. Do not delay, register them with Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU).

Go to www.horttrades.com/apprenticeship for more information and to download a pre-registration form. I recommend registering your apprentices as soon as possible, in order to ensure an in-school training spot this winter. Last winter, many apprentices were placed on a waiting list. The sooner you register, the sooner MTCU can determine how many seats are needed for our trade.

What to expect once you have completed the pre-registration form for Apprenticeship:
  1. The local training consultant will schedule a meeting with you and your employee to complete the registration and discuss the details.
  2. The registration fee ($600) will be collected once the new apprentice and the employer agree to their respective roles and responsibilities.
  3. The new apprentice will be provided a training standard book by MTCU that is updated regularly to reflect competency in performing various tasks identified in the book.
  4. The apprentice will be contacted by the MTCU and offered a seat for the in-class training. The apprenticeship must confirm acceptance immediately to ensure a spot in the class.
  5. Apprentices who leave the sponsor-employer in the trade and are employed by a new employer, must notify MTCU of the change and re-register with the new employer.
  6. The apprentice will attend two 12-week in-class terms, and complete their work experience training standard over several years to achieve their certificate of apprenticeship.
  7. The apprentice is now eligible to challenge the qualification exam. If he is successful in the exam, he is provided with a Certificate of Qualification, becoming a journeyperson and eligible for the ACG grant.
Check out the following sites: www.apprenticesearch.com, and www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/postsec/openingdoors/starting.html#4
If you have already completed the in-class portion and the on-the-job training, then take advantage of the recent incentive offered by the federal government, the Apprenticeship Completion Grant (ACG). Upon successful completion of the final trade exam, apprentices are eligible to receive another $2,000. For more information on the ACG go to: www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/workplaceskills/trades_apprenticeship/acg/criteria/ontario.shtml

Help for employers

Many employers have contacted me recently as to the tax credit schedules, which have not been included in our industry code 441C. We were only recently eligible for this perk.

The following was sent to me by the MTCU: “Corporations may claim the tax credit on Schedule 114 of the CT-23 or CT-8 tax return. Eligible employers operating unincorporated businesses may claim the credit on Form ON479, Ontario Credits, included in their personal income tax return. Visit the Apprenticeship Training Tax Credit page, or contact the Ministry of Revenue, tax advisory services branch at (905) 837-3814.”


The Landscape Industry Certification exam provides confirmation of an individual’s competence in the landscape industry across North America. By successfully completing designations, you prove your competence in the industry to yourself, your employer and customers.

All successful Landscape Industry Certified individuals have undergone examinations on knowledge, technical skills and safety practices. A high level of excellence is required to pass each section of the exams, meaning that even the most experienced person must demonstrate expertise in the topic areas.
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours (one year) experience is highly recommended before the Certification process is begun.
  • Written exams are designed to measure overall comprehension of a particular trade sector.
  • The written portion of the exam is generally 2.5 to 4 hours long. Many written exams are offered at industry events.
  • The hands-on tests measure an individual’s level of competence through a series of stations.
  • The candidate is required to successfully perform specific tasks within a certain period of time in the presence of a qualified industry judge.
  • Depending on the industry sector, up to 11 stations must be successfully completed.
  • A minimum grade of 70 per cent is required on each of the written and practical exam problems before certification status can be obtained.
All candidates who achieve a passing grade in some or all of the written and practical exams will receive a passport book indicating achievements to date.

Candidates are encouraged to seek additional information sources, or tutors for areas in which they are less experienced. Register for a certification prep course at Landscape Ontario’s home office, or in Ottawa.

Steps to get started

  • Fill out the registration form www.horttrades.com/landscape-industry-certified
  • Purchase a manual.
  • Register for your region’s next test and orientation dates to start the certification process.
  • Receive your test book, plant list and description of the testing stations.
  • Gain on-the-job experience and STUDY.
  • Remember safety is the key to success.
  • Once certified, maintain certification by continuing your horticultural training to fulfill re-certification requirements.
  • Enjoy your status as one of North America’s qualified, trusted and recognized horticultural professionals.
The season for practical testing is quickly approaching. Tests are offered in Milton, Kemptville and Windsor. Sign-up now to avoid disappointment and to ensure that you have your study manual in plenty of time.

Certification Acronym Aimed at Practical test Written test
Certified Landscape Designer CLD Landscape designers employees X X
Certified Landscape Technician - Hardscape CLT- I Hardscape installation employees X X
Certified Landscape Technician - Softscape CLT-I Softscape installation employees X X
Certified Landscape Technician - Turf Maintenance CLT-M Turf maintenance employees X X
Certified Landscape Technician - Ornamental CLT-M Ornamental plant maintenance and retail garden centre employees X X
Certified Landscape Technician CLT - Interior Interior tropical plant maintenance and installation employees   X
Certified Horticulture Technician CLT Retail garden centre, or retail landscape employees X X
Certified Landscape Manager CLP Managers, supervisors, owners   X

Contact Sally Harvey should you have any questions at sharvey@landscapontario.com.