Promoting Careers in the Skilled Trades
Last fall, CLAC welcomed the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) to the Cambridge Member Centre to host a live discussion about promoting careers in the skilled trades to today’s youth. CLAC invited contractors who employ our members and other partners in training and apprenticeship to participate in a roundtable discussion and contribute thoughts on this nationwide matter.
In Canada, the demand for skilled trades is as high as ever. A lot of work is available with a limited supply of suitable workers. Unfortunately, one of the leading causes for the shortage is the stigma surrounding the skilled trades. Many youth today are unaware of the skilled trades and are steered to pursue other options often considered more “polished” such as university or college. This lack of awareness, education, mentorship, and misconstrued expectations are all key barriers today’s youth face in viewing the skilled trades as a great career opportunity.
The key question: how do we attract youth to the skilled trades?
Awareness and education – We need to advertise the skilled trades for what they are—a career, not just a job. A career that is not only rewarding and in high demand, but that allows employee advancement to management and employer levels.
Earn while you learn – An apprenticeship provides a combination of on-the-job training as well as classroom training that universities and colleges cannot match. It takes roughly 2-5 years to complete an apprenticeship with 80-90 percent of this being hands-on learning while earning an income. After completing an apprenticeship, registered tradespeople can earn anywhere from $30-$50 per hour and are debt free. Studies also show that skilled tradespeople earn four percent more than the average Canadian worker.
Job security – The demand for skilled trades is high and will continue to remain stable. This line of work is impossible to be outsourced. We live in a society that will always need local tradespeople to provide hands-on, immediate work.
Essential skills – Being successful in the trades requires a number of essential skills such as writing, reading, working with others, hard work, creativity, problem solving, and many more.
Rewards – Youth want to do something that gives them value and meaning. A career that puts a roof over your neighbours’ heads, builds hospitals that save lives, schools that educate, and much more needs to be accredited as vital to a functioning society. The satisfaction that comes from seeing a finished product built by your own hands is something that is often lacking in other career opportunities.
It’s up to us to educate the next generation about all viable career options—including the skilled trades and their value to society.