Prospective tradespeople enrolled in apprenticeship courses will no longer have to pay for that training, as the province announced Tuesday it will pick up the tuition tab in an effort to lure more young people into the trades.

That's good news for Stefan Soiu, an apprentice electrician currently working for Henderson Electrical Installations in Waverley. He came to Nova Scotia from Romania five years ago.

As part of his apprenticeship, Soiu needs to complete four blocks of training at NSCC, each lasting between seven and 10 weeks. The government's decision to wave tuition on those means he will save $3,000 over the course of his training.

"[As] a foreigner, any money is good money that can be saved," he said.

Lester Buckland

Lester Buckland is a regional manager at contractor Black and MacDonald. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Lester Buckland, the regional manager for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick at Black & McDonald, a mechanical and electrical contractor, is also supportive. 

He said a shortage of skilled workers is the "biggest risk area" for the company and he considers the government's decision a move towards rectifying that.

"When we have to compete and we have to count on bringing outside workers in and paying them room and board and travel expenses, it's costly," he said. "So if we can have more apprentices through the system, more journeypeople eventually right here in Nova Scotia, it allows us to grow even more."

The governing Liberals promised to remove tuition for trades training in last spring's election. There are about 2,200 Nova Scotians enrolled in an apprenticeship each year. The move is expected to cost the province $1.3 million a year.

Almost all the training is offered through the Nova Scotia Community College system. But training is also available through the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry, the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and the Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association. 

Nova Scotia is one of six provinces and territories that do not charge for in-class training for apprentices. Quebec, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and Yukon are the other jurisdictions that offer tuition-free courses.

Other provinces charge between $50 and $98.50 a week:

  • Alberta: $98.50.
  • New Brunswick: $85.00.
  • Northwest Territories: $81.25.
  • British Columbia: $81.00.
  • Saskatchewan: $75.00.
  • Ontario: $50.00.
  • Manitoba: $200 for 8 weeks and $25 for additional weeks.