About half of the students in the apprenticeship program complete pre-apprenticeship training to gain the necessary skills and knowledge needed to secure an apprenticeship position as a millwright. These students then start the program in the field working as an apprentice. While students are in-class, 70% of their time is spent in a lab setting to develop their technical skills, which are then applied within the apprenticeship/
The apprenticeship experience for students is highly hands-on and customized for both the student's skill level and employer's operational needs. Students spend 90% of their time in the program at their workplace experience. Depending on class schedules, students may work one day per week for 30 weeks or every day for 8 weeks. Employers are highly engaged in the student experience.
Students must pass written tests for courses as well as hands-on testing. To graduate, they must pass the Certificate of Qualification exam.
Students don't complete any prescribed reflection activities, but the content across the program is scaffolded as students develop new skills.
Key success factors
Students who complete the pre-apprenticeship program develop basic employability skills and undergo technical training, helping them secure a job as an apprentice.
The program offers flexibility for employers in terms of when students leave for in-class learning.
Employers develop supportive relationships with their apprenticeship students, course instructors, and Sheridan. A few employers serve on the Program Advisory Committee to provide input on continuous improvement of the program.
Several students have won competitions at a wide variety of levels, including college-specific, provincial (Skills Ontario), national (Skills Canada), and international (WorldSkills) competitions. Competing isn't mandatory, but it's encouraged. In 2019, a student secured a spot on Team Canada to compete at the WorldSkills Competition in Russia.
Sheridan is still trying to reach its enrolment goals for its apprenticeship programs. In addition to marketing apprenticeships in an institution-specific context, the program is trying to counteract common cultural misperceptions regarding skilled trades; for example, some students who would be well-suited for the trades as a career path may not consider apprenticeship if it's viewed as less prestigious than traditional undergraduate programs.