Captivating a New Generation of Construction Workers
With a skilled tradespersons shortage looming, CLAC is helping to create pathways to a bright future for current and future construction members in Ontario
By Ian DeWaard, Ontario Director
As you and your fellow members know, a career in construction provides a stable income and a limitless range of career growth opportunities. A construction job provides a chance to be part of team; to create something substantive, lasting, and tangible; and to daily engage in creative problem solving. A job in construction is a winning proposition.
And yet we hear a common and increasingly loud refrain from the construction industry—there’s a major shortage of workers on the horizon. In Ontario, it’s projected that by 2030, 116,000 workers will be needed to deal with continued growth in the sector and to replace the 92,500 workers who will retire.
In a number of ways, CLAC is working hard to be part of that solution in the services we provide to current and future members.
Recently, we had an opportunity to speak to municipal councillors at the Region of Waterloo about how local government can play a role in helping to promote construction careers by leveraging the region’s role as a major construction developer. These initiatives are known as social procurement policies, and community benefits agreements (CBAs) are one type of program developed under these policies.
CBAs use large publicly funded projects to create job opportunities for citizens who live within the community where the project is being built. Their focus is typically youth and citizens from equity-seeking groups who have been historically underrepresented on construction work sites.
CLAC supports the ideals of such programs. In our presentation to the Region of Waterloo, we encouraged the municipality to establish CBAs that foster and facilitate partnership with local employment agencies and social enterprise organizations. We pointed to a CBA model recently launched in London that connects employers and local employment organizations. Such partnerships can connect prospective candidates to local construction jobs and increase the likelihood of long term success for them.
CBAs are one way to work toward captivating a new generation of construction workers. But there are many other examples of industry and government working together to solve the labour shortage conundrum.
For its part, CLAC has three ongoing efforts to support new workers and create pathways to a construction career.
- In 2020, we launched our CLAC Apprenticeship Support Program, which invites all CLAC apprentices (new and existing) to onboard with CLAC’s apprenticeship support team in Ontario. This program will help CLAC apprentices on their learning pathway, including access to pre-exam prep and tutoring, access to a journeyperson mentor, trade school fee reimbursement, and an outstanding achievement bonus. More information can be found on myCLAC at clac.ca/myapprenticeship.
- In 2021, CLAC entered into an agreement with Edvance, an association of independent high schools. Together, we are sponsoring the delivery of the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) in these schools, which will allow students to earn credit toward an apprenticeship while in a high school co-op learning program.
- This year, we’ll be launching a new learning program that provides basic introduction and safety training for individuals who hope to make a career jump into the construction trades. We’re calling it Construction 101-Bootcamp. In addition to three weeks of up-front training, it will offer participants a paid eight-week placement with a CLAC-signatory contractor. More information can be found at clac.ca/bootcamp.
All of these targeted programs are in addition to the partnerships that CLAC has established with a range of other organizations such as Skills Canada, the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, Supporting Women in the Trades, and the Aboriginal Apprenticeship Board of Ontario.
The future is bright for those who’ve elected a career in the skilled trades. CLAC is proud to be a supporting player in helping the current and future generation of workers find their way to a rewarding and fulfilling career in the construction industry.