Get Paid to Apprentice (With No Tuition Fees)

Beverly Written by Beverly Leavitt December 23, 2022 Training & Education

TR Leger Shop with a tractor and welcome sign.

This trade schooling desert is taking a different approach to agricultural technician apprenticeships, specifically for those in eastern Ontario. 

TR Leger Apprenticeship Centre at Kemptville Campus has a new solution that allows students to get paid while they train–and it’s all free. 

What’s Happening in Eastern Ontario?

Previously, anyone interested in getting their Level 1 apprenticeship in agricultural equipment, heavy equipment, and truck and coach would have to travel to western Ontario, take an 8+ week leave off work, leave their families, and claim EI. 

“Apprentices from eastern Ontario often struggled to get their certifications as it is expensive for them to travel and house during the process. They lose their wages during that time, which adds to the cost. In addition, their employers lose as they are short-staffed when the workload is already stressed,” says Bev. 

That sounds like enough reasons not to get certified to us. 

How is this Different?

With the help and support of local partners paired with government funding from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, the Upper Canada District School Board’s TR Leger School of Adult, Alternative and Continuing Education in partnership with Kemptville Campus and Education Center opened an apprenticeship program that works for people of most circumstances. 

Can’t go without staff for 8+ weeks? Employees don’t want to give up their full-time jobs? No problem! They can take courses throughout the week online at their own pace and follow up with in-class learning every Friday and every other Thursday–and continue to work throughout. 

Getting applicants who haven’t worked in ag before? Encourage them to take the pre-apprenticeship program and learn about all three career paths before committing. Even better, the course comes with a paid placement in each sector. Should one of those placements be at your dealership, you have first dibs at offering them a permanent position!

What if your applicants already know what path they want to take but want the schooling before they start working? Recommend that they pick the pre-apprenticeship, and the school will cater their placement to their chosen field. 

Have employees with tonnes of experience in the field but need them to upskill in a few select areas? Tell them about night classes where they can complete the individual modules or complete the entire apprenticeship in seven modules.

Working Around You 

TR Leger aims to be different by providing flexible course schedules to work with current life commitments. 

Throughout the courses, students have access to loaner laptops. Each course combines online modules with interactive lessons, along with in-person labs. Throughout the online portion, the instructor watches each student’s progress and offers more support where needed. The dedicated instructor is with the class throughout the entire program, so each individual’s learning needs can be met.

If students struggle to comprehend an idea on paper, they take 10 steps into the shop to work out the real-life scenario. 

See for yourself:

Surely, There are Hidden Costs 


All of the tools and equipment have generously been donated by local partners. Everything that’s needed to complete the course is provided, with the exception of steel-toed boots. 

Okay, Then, Prerequisites?

Not every course requires an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), meaning graduating high school isn’t necessarily a prerequisite. 

“Anybody who wants to learn can come, even those individuals who may not have their OSSD are eligible to participate in these programs, and we can certainly support their journey to achieving their OSSD at the same time,” shares Susan Rutters, Superintendent of Schools, including TR Leger and the East Region Education Centre with the Upper Canada District School Board.

TR Leger also offers English as a Second Language (ESL) courses to help new Canadians enter the job market and a variety of other programs for new Canadians and/or those looking to obtain a high school diploma.

The program is accessible to all students, including those who may have barriers to completing the program. TR Leger will support them with a scribe or read the materials to them. 

What’s Next? 

Since its inception in 2021, the level 1 class expects to have 82 graduates in spring 2023. 

They graduate with real-life experience in the trade that is directly applicable to jobs in your dealership. In addition to learning about ag equipment, they also leave with “soft skills.”

“We know that the workplace is technologically driven. Ensuring that the people who leave can use Excel appropriately, understand the dynamics of using email in a workplace setting, and know the impact social media use can have on them as employees and their employers. We educate them on the appropriate use to protect their employability,” says Susan.

She continues, “that can also include social skills and etiquette in a dealership. How people can conduct themselves successfully from a customer service standpoint, whether at the parts counter or on the shop floor.” 

With those skills under their belt, they’re ready for employment (or to return to work with more knowledge). 

If this is their first experience with the trade, many of the students (85%, in fact) come out employed at the end–which could be at your dealership. 

If you have an employee upskilling, encourage them to complete each level of training with compensation incentives. This can help your retention, increase your service depth and breadth, and provide better customer service.   

TR Leger is currently working on adding additional levels to the curriculum–so keep checking back to register for levels 2 and 3. 

Find out more about the programs.