'Through health and safety, employers have an opportunity to show young workers they care'
Employers in the construction sector need to find new ways to talk to millennials if they are going to solve a looming skilled trades shortage, according to the Ontario government
"Young people have different attitudes towards life and work than the generations before them," said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development. "The construction sector, along with others, needs to adjust to those changing attitudes to attract and retain talent."
Young people prioritize independence and want to feel confident they have some control over their lives, found new research conducted by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
And construction health and safety programs offer employers an opportunity to address those values, says McNaughton.
"If we empower young people to be able to speak up on issues of safety, if we provide them with the right mentorship and we give them all the tools, including new technology, this will go a long way towards meeting their needs."
About one in two (55 per cent) young workers in the construction feel safe at their current workplace, says the government. Roughly the same proportion (54 per cent) believe safety is more important than speed or profit.
"We need to prioritize a culture of safety over a finish-at-any-cost mentality," said McNaughton. "This will benefit workers and ultimately prove good for business."
An aging workforce is driving the shortage of skilled workers. Over the next decade, the Canadian construction industry will need about 300,000 skilled construction workers, says the government.
"We need to end the stigma around the skilled trades, make the apprenticeship system easier to navigate, and find better ways to convince businesses to participate. That is my mission."