Melissa Mangelsen, Fort Erie Times

Hands on experience in any field of work is a valuable asset, and not one you can typically gain through school alone.

For many, an apprenticeship program cannot only help young workers gain experience, but it can also prevent them from taking on more debt through extended schooling.

An apprentice learns a skilled trade on the job, under the direction of more experienced workers. They will also complete classroom instruction as part of their training.

Laryssa Smith, supervisor of employment programs at the Job Gym in Fort Erie said that as an agency they help youth find a place that is willing to do apprenticeships.

The Job Gym has seen first hand the benefits of apprenticeships, which range from people in the electrical field to hairdressing.

“The hope is that after the apprenticeship is done the employer will want to keep them on board, but if not, the Job Gym will help them look for employment,” said Smith.

The apprentice will work the same as any regular employee at their place of employment.

Becoming an apprentice can be an important first step to learning new skills and building a rewarding career, jobs in the skilled trades pay well, and are interesting and challenging.

Smith said people who are interested in becoming an apprentice must have the willingness to learn.

“You have to be aware that you’re starting at the bottom and working your way up,” she said.

“You gain hands on learning and you’re being taught and trained in a job you applied for. You’re getting the most current and accurate information,” said Smith.

Apprentice’s come from both high school and college, and with the difficult times in the economy is a great asset for youth to have.

As people complete their high school or college education they are faced with the search for a job, which at times can be challenging. They typically are also faced with debt from college. Because they are a paid employee as an apprentice, it allows them to not just train, but to pay off debt, or avoid adding any additional debt.

Smith said anyone who wants to do an apprenticeship program, or has any questions should stop by the Fort Erie Job Gym office at 469 Central Ave, or call 905-871-3952.

More information on apprenticeship programs can also be found at