It’s an exercise in rock-turning, but loans and grants are out there for those wanting to pursue a career in trades training. What’s missing is a central website, where all the loans and grants are registered.
However, the Journal of Commerce has compiled a list of some of the larger funding sources.
Funding generally comes in two forms.
Grants, scholarships, and bursaries are non-repayable and there’s no shortage of companies, governments, and associations waving the dollars at students.
Loans from the federal and provincial government are repayable.
The place to begin any search for funds is at the website of the institution where the career is to be launched.
Programs, including those specific to that institution or region, are often listed.
When applying for a grant or loan, check out the eligibility conditions, deadline and make sure that all documents required are filed.
The Canada Student Grant program is being expanded.
Currently, individuals from low-income families can gain a $250 a month grant on a 60-week study program.
In B.C., the household income for low-income, one-person family is $23,647, while the Alberta figure is $23,978 and Manitoba’s is $24,167.
The program also provides $100 monthly for students from mid-income families with income ranges of $37,000 to $46,000 for the same provinces.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced this spring that beginning in 2016-2017, Canada Student Grants will be made available to qualifying low-and middle-income students enrolled in educational programs with a minimum duration of 34 weeks.
Harper also brought forward the new Canada Apprenticeship Loan that can provide individuals registered in a Red Seal program with $4,000 in interest-free funds per technical training period for up to five periods of technical training.
It does not need to be paid back until the person begins working as a Red Seal journeyman and at that point interest accrues.
Also, the federal government provides another $4,000 in a grant to successful journeymen who complete their training.
The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant is a taxable $1,000 cash grant that can be obtained for two years of training.
However, the individual applying for the $2,000 in grant money must prove they have completed either the first or second year of an apprenticeship program.
The Apprenticeship Completion Grant is a taxable cash grant of $2,000 that registered apprentices can apply for on completion of their apprenticeship training.
Those apprentices registered with the Industry Training Authority (ITA) of B.C. and needing time off to do classroom work can apply for unemployment insurance.
StudentAid BC is a B.C. government website that has online applications for student loans and also provides information on loans, bursaries, grants and scholarships.
It’s a go-to site, but not the only resource as some colleges and technical institutions have additional information.
The B.C. Access Grant for Labour Market Priorities was expanded last year to help students travel and study near post-secondary institutions, which provide skills in trades identified by the provincial government.
Students can now receive up to $16,400 in non-repayable grants for studying in-demand trades such as heavy duty mechanic, carpentry, sheet metal, gas fitting, heavy equipment operation, iron work, and industrial mechanics.
As much as $4,000 can be applied for to cover the cost of relocation to an area, where the institution is located, said Erin Johnston, director of training delivery for the of the ITA.
This grant also provides a provision for "unmet" financial requirements of up to $6,500 that other programs fail to cover.
Two programs exist for younger individuals under 19 wanting to go into trades, said Johnston.
"The ITA and the Ministry of Education covers the cost of tuition while they start their technical training in high school," she said, as the training (through the ACE-IT program) takes place in a technical institute.
The student may still have some book costs.
The second Secondary School Apprenticeship program provides a $1,000 scholarship for young persons under 19 working in the trades, but who successfully completed high school.
The ITA also has funding programs available to encourage women in trades as well as Aboriginals and new Canadians, she said.
The programs are geared to the unemployed.
"(It is for) individuals who have been out of the workforce and who don’t qualify for employment insurance," she said.
There are also training tax credits that apprentices can take advantage of during tax time and these refundable income tax credits for apprentices apply to apprentices enrolled in ITA programs.
Funding is also available for part-time studies.
One of the lesser known programs is also the federal government’s part-time study loan. While it doesn’t cover living expenses, it can help pay books, tuition, transportation and child care.
The part-time study grant program offers up to $1,200 a year to low-income individuals that qualify.
Another place to look for funding is at the training institution itself.
The Thompson Rivers University, which also offers trade programs, has a WorkStudy program, where students (based on need) can supplement their incomes by working on campus.
The rate is $10.25 per hour and often involves helping staff with projects.
There is a limit of eight hours per week and participants can only earn up to $2,400 per academic year.
At the B.C. Institute of Technology (BCIT), there is provincial funding available that covers tuition, books, and other associated costs under the Adult Upgrading Grant, if the individual enrols in a number of designated program.
These include math and physics courses, as well as the institute’s Technology Entry, Trades Discovery General and Trades Discovery Women courses.
A complete list is available on the BCIT website under financial aid.
The provincial government is expected to announce soon that more free money is available to students in trades.
"We are in the midst of re-vamping our scholarship program and we anticipate details will be available shortly. Support for students interested in skills and trades training will be increasing," said B.C. Ministry of Education media officer Craig Sorochan.
Until then, one of the best resources for tapping into what’s available is B.C. Scholarships (www.bcscholarships.ca), which lists scholarships and also links to other sites were more listings can be found.
The amounts can be significant. Imperial Oil offers $5,000 that is available to a student entering a two-year instrumentation course with $2,500 paid each year.
The construction industry also offers money.
The Prince George Construction Association offers three bursaries for $1,000 and another four for $500.
The Southern Interior Construction Association has the Howard Strong Scholarship Program, which offers 10 $1,000 scholarships to individuals for post-secondary education and/or training in construction.
The Electro-Federation Canada and its member support funding of education of new students through awards and in 2015 earmarked $120,000 for scholarships across Canada for those seeking careers in the electrical industry.