Canadian Skilled Trades Workers are in High Demand

Vacancies for jobs in the skilled trades sector are increasing. In fact, careers in the construction and manufacturing industries reached record highs in 2022. To meet the demand, the Canadian government has stated that over 256,000 new trades apprentices must occur within the next five years to meet the high demand. The trades cover the following industries: automotive, carpentry, construction, electrician, HVAC, plumbing, welding, and cooking.

Previously, the stigma surrounding the skilled trades sector in the country was relatively common. President Dave Cassidy of Unifor Local 444 is optimistic, however, as he says that the stigma is declining. More parents are encouraging their children to pursue a skilled trades apprenticeship, especially with how in-demand careers in these industries are becoming. “The stereotype of skilled trades people being unable to make it into university has really gone to the wayside,” Cassidy says. In January 2022, the federal government launched a campaign to promote the trades, which included almost $1 billion in funding for grants and apprenticeships.

Trades Apprenticeships Vs. College Tuition

Trade apprenticeships prioritize skill-based learning solutions and the student’s education goes towards learning everything about the job they’re looking to pursue. Additionally, students can sometimes earn their trade certificate or degree in a much shorter time than a college or university degree. One of the most enticing facts about apprenticeships is that students can often save more money on their tuition than they would on college tuition. For example, Centennial College offers a tuition price of around $1,800 to $2,000 for one academic year.

The federal government provides grants for financial aid. The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant offers qualifying students up to $2,000 to cover associated apprenticeship costs. Ontario even offers students non-repayable tool grants. The grant amount varies based on the type of trade the student is apprenticing in. The rate amounts include:

  • $1,000 for motive power trades
  • $600 for construction trades
  • $600 for industrial trades
  • $400 for service trades

Salary Range Expectations

Once the apprenticeship is completed, the student becomes a journeyman and the sector is essentially their oyster. According to the average journeyman in Canada can make a base salary of $68,270 annually. While experienced journeymen can make up to $84,009 annually. Compare that with the average salary in Canada of only $44,267 a year. Many apprenticeships include co-ops and placements which allow students to acquire hands-on training while allowing them to receive payment for their work. The only disadvantage to the apprenticeship is finding a business to sponsor the student. Several Canadian businesses offer apprenticeships, however, they often have hundreds of other prospective students applying for a limited number of positions. If you’re looking to find an employer to sponsor your apprenticeship, use the Government of Canada website using the keyword ‘apprentice’ and the applicable trade name to search for some in your area. Once you find one, ensure you register at your local apprenticeship office to see what grants and financial support you could qualify for.

Apprenticeship Requirements

The requirements to receive full apprenticeship certification can vary by province. However, if the apprenticeship is a Red Seal trade, the student can apply for Red Seal certification. That will allow you to work anywhere in the country. To qualify for the certification, the student needs to log a prerequisite number of hours and semesters. The Red Seal examinations determine whether the tradesperson meets the national standard in regards to the Red Seal trade.“There’s going to be so many jobs in the future,” Cassidy says. “People like my age, they’re gonna be retiring in the next few years and there will be many openings for people, and it’s a great opportunity.

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