November 10, 2016
By J. Alex Gibson
LO Eastern Ontario Apprenticeship Program Development Coordinator

J Alex GibsonFor the past six months, Landscape Ontario has promoted the Apprenticeship Program and its many benefits to employers and staff across the province. Apprenticeship is a predominantly on-the-job training program that is run through the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (formally the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities) and the Ontario College of Trades. The program has a number of financial incentives and training benefits and costs employers virtually nothing to participate. In addition, the LO Apprenticeship Coordinator supports employers and employees with the application process and throughout the program.

To better understand apprenticeship and its many benefits, we contacted four employers from across Ontario, who vary in size and location, to tell us why they participated in the program.
As an employer, what are your top three reasons for participating in the Apprenticeship Program?

The most common response to this question pertained to training and increasing staff on-the-job knowledge. As our profession grows, it will become even more important that staff are confident and competent while on the job site. Thus, cost-effective and profession-based training will become more widely used and accessed. The Apprenticeship Program helps prepare employees with trade-knowledge and provides the hands-on skills needed to be successful.

The program also has a number of additional benefits that employers have noted. Jerry Hakkers of Sifton Properties in London sees the program as an advantage for employee retention and a means of growth for their company. Scott Wentworth of Wentworth Landscapes in Picton and Noreen Haunton of Let’s Landscape Together in Burlington identify the program as a means of promoting the industry and creating an incentive for new staff who may be interested in joining the landscaping profession.

Richard Rogers, formerly of RJ Rogers Landscaping in Ottawa sees apprenticeship as a benefit for customers — highlighting a company’s commitment to improving and developing its workforce to deliver a quality product.
As government and business tenders move towards stricter regulations, the Apprenticeship Program will help develop companies and allow them to compete and meet the required necessities, at little to no cost.

What has been your experience with the Apprenticeship Program?

A year ago, during a program review, Landscape Ontario identified the difficult registration process as one of the key factors for low apprenticeship participation. Employers found the process confusing, time consuming and inherently difficult. As a result, LO hired an Apprenticeship Program Coordinator to help ease these difficulties and support registrations.

Three of the four companies surveyed had previously registered apprentices, and encountered some form of barrier during the process. With the new apprenticeship application process, employers have experienced less wait time and less confusion. Scott Wentworth stated, “It’s a one-stop shop for the Apprenticeship Program. Layers of complication have been removed.” Jerry Hakkers stated, “With the coordinator, the process is much easier.” Unlike the other companies, Noreen Haunton was new to the Apprenticeship Program. “Landscape Ontario has really been an asset in the paperwork and answering questions right away,” she said.

With the program rapidly expanding, Landscape Ontario will continue to support its members across the province.

In two sentences or less, what would you say to an employer who might be thinking about registering an apprentice?

“This is a great way to promote our industry and retain employees,” responded Jerry Hakkers.

“Growing your staff knowledge never hurts a company or an employee. It’s a great benefit to both staff and company growth,” said Noreen Haunton.

“Registering an employee will validate the landscaping industry and provide employers with skilled and knowledgeable employees. Consistency throughout the industry and in-class instruction will provide apprentices with knowledge of all the aspects of landscaping,” offered Scott Wentworth.

“It is a no-brainer, developing an employee during the winter season at very little if no cost,” replied Richard Rogers.

For more information on apprenticeship, contact Alex Gibson at or 613-809-5093 or visit and check out our 1-minute promo video on YouTube.
Jerry HakkersJerry Hakkers
Richard RogersRichard Rogers
Noreen HauntonNoreen Haunton
Scott WentworthScott Wentworth