As a graduate of the Durham College welding program I found this article interesting as it spoke to something that I have witnessed over the span of my working life, the looming shortage of trades people. One of the big problems that we have in Canada is a lack of on the job training that an apprenticeship program requires. The Conference Board of Canada in 2011 found that spending for on-the-job training had dropped 40% since peaking in 1993. This despite the fact that a study by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum found that employers received $1.47 for every $1.00 spent on training.
The new federal government program of Apprenticeship grants and will only work if employers get on board and hire more apprentices. To this end the government is working with the provinces to bring in the Canada Job Grant program. This program will provide $15,000 per person so Canadians can access the training they will need to get jobs in the high-demand fields. It is hoped that this will encourage Canadian businesses to take on and train more apprentices.
Some employers are trying to get around the skilled labour shortage by bringing in foreign trained workers through the Temporary Foreign Worker program. This despite an unemployment rate of 13.9% among youths 15 to 24 in January 2014, almost 400,000 young Canadians. If they are truly concerned about the future employers should be looking to partner with government and educational institutes to train and create opportunities for these young people.
As more and more baby boomers retire from the skilled trades we will need more and more young people to step in and take over. Apprenticeship is one of the most important mechanisms we have to ensure that we will have a skilled workforce in the future.