June 15, 2016
The apprenticeship program is a top human resources priority in Ontario and across Canada. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) made it clear that in order for the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship to continue to support apprenticeship training programs, industry must step up and support it. The writing is on the wall. If we snooze, we know we will lose this gift.

Over the last 18 months, Landscape Ontario has been working closely with industry and provincial government partners, including the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) and the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) to promote the apprenticeship program and to provide solutions and support for employers, employees, apprentices and the industry as a whole to ensure improved awareness and access to the training program. As a result of the initial momentum gained, the LO provincial board of directors approved the addition of a new staff position to support LO’s education and labour development team toward achieving some ambitious goals.

In mid-March, Alexander Gibson joined LO’s team as the Apprenticeship Program Development Coordinator for Eastern Ontario. Gibson is working diligently toward supporting registrations in the Eastern Ontario region and across other LO chapters as well. His goals include, but are not limited to:
  • Maintaining apprenticeship in-class opportunities across the province
  • Creating awareness
  • Supporting colleges who offer the program
  • Supporting employers and apprentices through the apprenticeship journey
  • Enabling OCOT membership registration for apprentices
  • Developing learning resources for apprentices
  • Supporting employer access to incentives
  • Supporting apprentice access to incentives and loans
  • Supporting completions
  • Supporting skills development for our future workforce
In May 2016, the MTCU announced the apprenticeship training program would return to both Loyalist College (Belleville) and Algonquin College (Ottawa). These two programs will result in 40 spots for horticultural technician apprentices to access training in Eastern Ontario. Along with Fanshawe College, Humber College and Mohawk College, more industry members will have improved access to in-class training close to home next winter.

LO has developed a number of support mechanisms to assist employers and apprentices in navigating through the apprenticeship program. A new website, www.horticulturetechnician.ca, provides information on a variety of topics including the return on investment, registration tips and resources, in-school options, incentives and exam preparation. To support this website and registration process, LO has developed new resources that highlight the steps to becoming an apprentice or employer sponsor using simple language to support an efficient process. Industry now has the opportunity to leverage staff who specialize in navigating through the process to support success registrations and completions efficiently — whether it be to review an apprenticeship application package before it is sent to the MTCU, or supporting apprentices in registering with OCOT and/or accessing resources to prepare for the final Journeyperson exam.

The apprenticeship program is a combination of in-class and on the job training that builds a loyal and highly-skilled workforce. The Horticultural Technician Program, which can take 3-5 years to complete, is a Red-Seal program that provides apprentices with a vast array of skills and on-the-job training experience within the landscape profession. Furthermore, employers that invest the time to support their staff with the program have seen improved performance and retention, thus reducing recruitment and on-boarding costs.

In addition to the expanded effort across the province, LO recently became recognized by the MTCU as a group sponsor in Eastern Ontario (Ottawa and Upper Canada Chapters). Essentially, LO has become a registration agent for industry in this area. This model allows for employers to focus on the required on-the-job training for the apprentice, while LO handles the burden of administration and support mechanisms behind the scenes. In addition to simplified registration applications, apprentices and employers will receive support and assistance throughout the entire apprenticeship program. Landscape Ontario has also gained the ability to submit OCOT membership applications through a specialized batch submission process. This will ensure that registrations to OCOT are complete and apprentices have access to in-class training and benefits of the program. In the past, this has been a hurdle since the inception of OCOT in 2013.

For more information about the Apprenticeship Program or to register now, visit www.horticulturetechnician.ca or contact Alex Gibson at 613-518-3268 or apprenticeship@landscapeontario.com to get started.