Provinces step up with new funds to boost trades during National Skilled Trades and Technology Week
November 8, 2019 by On-Site Staff
Across the country this week, Skills Canada and its provincial affiliates held events to recognize and promote the skilled trades. With the spotlight trained on the sometimes overlooked fields of work, most provincial governments took the time to applaud tradespeople and some announced new programs or funding to boost the number of young Canadians looking at the trades as a promising career path.
“A skilled workforce is the backbone of a prosperous economy,” Demetrios Nicolaides, Alberta’s minister of Advanced Education, said in a release. “We value the professional expertise skilled tradespeople bring to the workplace and the contribution they make to our province. We firmly believe apprenticeship learning and skilled trades training has every bit as much value, merit and worth as a university education.”
Alberta announced plans to step up Skills Canada Alberta’s funding to $2 million a year, up from $1.5 million previously. It said the added boost will help expose more students in middle and high schools to the trades, as well as allow more students to compete at skilled trades competitions held at the local, provincial and national levels.
Likewise, Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador will get $178,000 from the provincial government to launch a new program known as Skilled Futures. The program will offer interactive workshops for students and connect them with mentors as well as information on post-secondary trades programs.
Across the country, skilled tradespersons are expected to be increasingly short supply in the coming years, in both construction and beyond. Skills Canada and its provincial offshoots aim to address the shortage by encouraging youth to enter the field.
In Canada’s most populous province, the Ontario government took numerous steps to boost skilled trades, which it estimates will create one in five jobs in the province by 2021.
“We know that a labour market shortage exists today and will rise over time in the high-paying skilled trades,” Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Minister of Education, said in a release. “My top priority is to ensure students get the skills they need and, by investing in the skilled trades, our government is helping more students gain the competitive edge and job prospects they deserve.”
The province said it will spend approximately $10 million to expand its Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program. This will add 122 new student programs with the goal of having more high school students enter the skilled trades. Ontario is also boosting funding for its Pre-Apprenticeship Training program, spending $2.5 million this year — which translates to creating about 200 more positions in the learning program.
Within construction, approximately 300,000 workers — not of them considered skilled tradespeople — will be needed to replace those retiring or leaving the industry over the next decade, according to the most recent data from industry research organization BuildForce Canada.