Trades and Apprenticeship

Carpentry student uses drill on ductwork during applied learning.

Foundation vs Apprenticeship

What's the difference?

Some people find they are unsure about whether they need to start with Trades foundation programs or apprenticeship training. Really, they are just different starting lines on the same path of training toward a new career.

What is a foundation program?

A foundation program is entry-level training designed for people who have little or no trades experience and who are not currently working as an apprentice in the industry. A foundation program will make it easier for you to take the next step in your training, finding an employer who will sponsor your apprenticeship.

Foundation students learn the basic knowledge and skills needed to seek employment in a specific trade. The program is typically taught in both a classroom and in-school shop setting. One of the main reasons to complete a foundation program is to gain some experience and familiarity with the trade.  Upon successful completion of the program, graduates will receive technical training credits and work based hours towards an apprenticeship. Graduates will find employment and work with their employer to become registered with the Industry Training Authority (ITA) before returning for their next level of training at Okanagan College. 

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship program is designed for a tradesperson who is working in the industry and is actively registered as an apprentice with the Industry Training Authority (ITA). 

An apprenticeship is a combination of on-the-job training and classroom learning that leads to Red Seal endorsement – also known as a ticket. Once you complete your apprenticeship training, you will have the opportunity to write the Interprovincial Red Seal Exam.  Red Seal endorsement is the highest level of trades certification. About 50 trades also offer an Interprovincial Red Seal, which certifies you to work across Canada.

How do I start with a foundation program?

  • Research the different trades and find  one that fits your interest
  • Find out the prerequisites for the trades program of your choice
  • Choose your intake date and campus, if there is more than option available
  • Follow Apply links to submit an application through the province's EducationPlannerBC system

How do I start an apprenticeship?

  • Visit the ITA BC website to read the program profile, which describes the work you will do and the requirements for your trade
  • Find an employer who will hire you and pay for your work while you learn on the job
  • Ensure your employer is registered with ITA BC as your sponsor that will report on your progress
  • Register with Okanagan College as an apprentice in the level you need

Who should take a foundation program?

  • High school students
  • People with little to no experience in the trade
  • Those changing careers or considering adding to their list of skills

Who is eligible for apprenticeship training?

  • Someone who has an employer and sponsor (they are often the same) in the desired field
  • Someone who has work experience hours in the trade, or a related trade
  • Someone who has completed their Level 1 training, through a foundation program or equivalent
  • Someone who is a registered apprentice with ITA BC

Still have questions?

The staff at OC's Trades and Apprenticeship office is here to help answer your questions. Touch base with us to find out more.


Join an info session or become a student for a day. 


Have your questions answered by a Trades and Apprenticeship staff member.


Ready to apply for a foundation program? Submit your application through the EducationPlanner portal.


After you have registered with the ITA, sign up to do your apprenticeship at Okanagan College.