Mental Health and Well-Being in Apprenticeship (Part 3 of 3)
Apprenticeships have been shown to provide job satisfaction, but supporting workers’ overall well-being is an important facet of on-the-job happiness that needs more attention
By Kari-Anne March, Marketing Coordinator, CLAC Career Development College & CLAC Training, Alberta
As mental health and well-being becomes an increasingly prevalent national topic, it is critical that we explore the impacts mental health has on our workforce. The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF-FCA) has released Apprentice Well-Being: An Apprentices in Canada ePanel Report, allowing industry to dive into the real-life experiences of Canadian apprentices and the impact working in the trades has on their mental health and well-being. Join us in in this three-part blog series as we work to better understand mental health and its impacts on our workforce, while striving to become better mental health advocates for all Canadians.
Contrary to the results explored in part 1 and part 2 of this series, Canadian apprentices experience a significant level of job satisfaction. While there are many stressors that negatively impact Canadian apprentices’ mental health and well-being, there are also lots of positive experiences to report. Talking about and learning from the stressors, coping strategies, and positive experiences had by apprentices is our chance to do better for them.
It is well-known that when people enjoy what they spend time doing, whether at work or at home, they are generally happier, which also impacts their workplace performance. CAF plainly states in its report: “Happiness at work is reflected in employee engagement, productivity, satisfaction, better performance ratings, higher salaries, and improved overall health.”
Most surveyed apprentices are happy with their trade, as an average of 75 percent responded positively to the following statements:
• 76 percent — I am generally happy with my trade.
• 75 percent — I cope well with everyday tasks.
• 74 percent — My trade is enjoyable and fulfilling.
A career in the skilled trades comes with many positive benefits to an individual’s well-being. Postsecondary education of any kind helps individuals gain meaningful employment and income as they work to earn a sense of purpose and stability. Beyond this, apprentices can form positive social connections through camaraderie with coworkers, and mentorship through apprentice-journeyperson relationships. Apprentices are also able to develop a sense of mastery and fulfillment through the development of essential skills. These are just some of the work-life experiences that apprentices can have that support their overall mental health and well-being.
Dissatisfaction within the trades has been primarily identified in the following areas, with less than 50 percent of respondents agreeing with the following statements:
• 47 percent — I get the support I need from school or my employer to work in the trades.
• 42 percent — My trade does not negatively impact my personal life.
• 42 percent — My trade does not interfere with my sleep.
Depending on the chosen profession, many apprentices struggle to maintain a positive work-life balance. While often well-paying positions, the unpredictable nature and high demands of some sectors require apprentices to work long hours and spend long periods of time away from home working on large sites with high employee turnover rates.
These conditions hinder an apprentice’s ability to form and maintain positive social connections, both at home and in the workplace. The inability to form connections and/or maintain a positive work-life balance can negatively impact one’s mental health and well-being, as seen in the above survey results.
SUPPORTING WELL-BEING IS EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY
It is the responsibility of all industry stakeholders to support the mental health and overall well-being of Canadian apprentices. Although we do not have all the answers today, when we come together to discuss and, more importantly, to understand the good, the bad, and the downright ugly natures of our industry, we have the chance to pave the way to a better life for all Canadians.
For the employer, supporting well-being aims to improve employee retention and productivity, promoting higher levels of engagement at work. For the apprentice, supporting well-being encourages a better home life, a better work-life, better physical health, and feelings of happiness and self-worth. And for industry, well-being in our apprentices supports a better-connected industry with clearer goals and a better, happier work life for all.
To access the full Apprentice Well-Being: An Apprentices in Canada ePanel Report, visit the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum website.
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