Apprentices in union training programs have higher completion rates than those indentured to the non-union sector, according to a report by the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS).

The report found that 75 per cent of apprentices trained through a Joint Apprenticeship Training Trust (JATT), which are partnerships of labour and management, complete their programs.

The completion rate for apprentices indentured to individual employers was 58 per cent.

“Ontario’s union-employer training centres are an integral and growing piece of the province’s jobs training infrastructure,” Sean Strickland, chief executive officer of the OCS, said in a press release distributed with the report. “Union-employer training partnerships deliver better results. We see this in the number of union apprentices who complete their training and earn their Certificate of Qualification to become a journeyperson.”

The report, called Completion Counts: Raising Apprenticeship Completion Rates to Address Skills Shortages in Ontario’s Construction Industry, states that the evidence of significantly higher rates of completion among union apprentices indentured to JATTs suggests the significant investments made by the industry are paying off.

The research and analysis was conducted by the Apprenticeship Research Group, a consortium of Prism Economics, Professor Morley Gunderson and Ipsos Reid.

The report concludes that the unique partnership between construction labour unions and their contractor partners ensures apprentices have the resources they need to complete their tenure and become journeypersons.

According to the report, this collaborative approach provides technical hands-on training and also supports apprentices throughout their training.

The conclusion of the report is based on a detailed analysis of apprentice registration and completion data provided by the provincial Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

There has long been anecdotal evidence that the investments and unique practices by JATTs result in higher completion rates for union apprentices, but there’s been no data to prove it.

The report states that the union advantage in achieving higher completion rates stems from the significant investment in facilities and the unique system of supports provided in the delivery of apprenticeship training.

Through partnership and commitment to a strong training culture, the JATT system provides resources for screening apprentice candidates, preparing apprentices for their training, and supporting them during the training period, the report states.

The report notes that the unionized approach focuses on work experience with multiple employers, providing both a depth and breadth of skills and experience.

In some trades, the report states, union locals support night school programs to prepare union apprentices for trade school.

Many locals also provide apprentices with refresher training to prepare them for the Certificate of Qualification exam, the report states.