by Nikki Partey
Canada can boast the best educated workforce of G7 countries. But, there’s an unexpected tradeoff. Canada’s trades and apprenticeships aren’t getting as much enrollment.
Statistics Canada has released the findings of a census revealing one in four working-age people has a college diploma or degree. On the other hand, the number of working-age apprenticeship certificate holders in areas like construction, and mechanic and repair technologies has stagnated.
Baby boomers currently make up the majority of workers in skilled trades. While they are retiring, there aren’t enough apprenticeship and trade certified young people to take over their roles.
In Canada, “working-age” is 25-64. International students and immigrants make up much of this number. Many are over-qualified for the work they do in Canada.
Seneca student Rayssa Cavalcanti was an architect in her home country Brazil. In Canada she is studying to become a journalist.
“For me, I had to study again to be in Canada…I have a bachelor’s in architecture. In my case, I didn’t want to study again, but I had to.”
Cavalcanti’s husband is a construction worker and got his work permit because she is enrolled in college. He just had to complete an exam for safety certification in order to continue working in his field.
Another Seneca student, Wafa Yunis has a degree in digital art and animation and seven years industry experience in India. She also chose to study journalism in Canada. Not only because it aligns with her career plans, it also increased her chances of her visa being accepted.
“I was aware of all the possible courses I could take…which is why I took this course. Because I like it, and also because I knew I would get a visa for it…I’ve worked in news media companies before, entertainment companies.”
The skilled trades may seem stagnant for now, but there are plans to get interest flowing again.
The Ontario government has announced multi-million dollar investments in the trades.
The province is investing $4.8 million to expand their dual credit Skilled Trades program. And $3.5 million in training initiatives across the province to help students get trained in construction jobs.