Ottawa launches awareness campaign for skilled trades

'Experiential marketing events' coming to different key locations across the country

Ottawa launches awareness campaign for skilled trades

The federal government has launched a new campaign to promote skilled trades among Canadians.

Under the initiative, a series of “experiential marketing events” will run in Ottawa, Montréal, Fredericton, Saint John, Toronto and Vancouver.

“Skilled trades workers are the backbone of the Canadian economy. With demographic shifts and high retirement rates, Canada needs more skilled trades workers,” says Randy Boissonnault, minister of employment, workforce development and official languages. “These good-paying and rewarding careers are an integral part of several industries across the country. Our government continues to raise awareness about the great careers available to young Canadians in trades. We are building a robust and diverse skilled trades workforce now for the economy of the future.”

The first trades round for category-based selection under the federal government’s Express Entry – Canada’s flagship economic immigration management system – to fill job openings in the skilled trades through immigration recently kicked off.

‘Experiential marketing events’ for skilled trades

Under the new initiative, individuals can learn about different skilled trades careers, find in-demand trades in their province or territory and discover the steps it takes to become a skilled trades worker. The exhibit focuses on creating an in-person and immersive experience. 

This weekend the experiential marketing display will be set up in Ottawa at Lansdowne Park.

In Ontario, the construction industry was the second fastest-growing industry with 9.2 per cent growth from 2019 to 2022, according to the federal government. This industry makes up a large percentage of employment for Red Seal trades in Canada. 

In the Ottawa region, there are several Red Seal trades that have solid employment outlooks over the 2022–2024 period, Ottawa says, including:

  • cabinetmakers
  •  carpenters
  • cooks
  • industrial mechanics (millwrights)
  • tower crane operators
  •  gasfitters – Class A
  • gasfitters – Class B
  • refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics
  • heavy duty equipment technicians
  • industrial electricians
  • landscape horticulturists

“Events like these encourage Canadian youth to discover the rewarding careers that exist in the skilled trades and technologies through interactive activities, and help them find their passion,” says Shaun Thorson, CEO, Skills/Compétences Canada. “They also allow us to raise awareness of these important and lucrative careers to our future skilled workforce.”

The campaign supports Ottawa’s Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy, which aims to support a trades workforce that is skilled, inclusive, certified and productive. As part of the strategy, the government invests nearly $1 billion annually in grants, loans, tax credits, Employment Insurance benefits during in-school training, projects and support for the Red Seal Program.

Ottawa offers direct financial support to apprentices in the Red Seal trades. These include:

  • The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant, which is a taxable cash grant of $1,000 per year or level, for a lifetime maximum amount of $2,000 per person.
  • The Apprenticeship Completion Grant, which is a one-time taxable cash grant lifetime amount of $2,000 per person for registered apprentices who complete their apprenticeship training and obtain their journeyperson certification.
  • The Canada Apprentice Loan, which provides up to $4,000 in interest-free loans per period of technical training. The money can be used to help pay for tuition, tools, equipment and living expenses, to cover forgone wages or to help support the family of the apprentice.

Federal supports to help employers hire new first year apprentices, and for union-led training through targeted calls for proposals, are also available. The 2023 Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy – Investment in Training Equipment call for proposals is currently open until September 21, 2023.

Starting with students entering Grade 9 in September 2024, all students will be required to earn a Grade 9 or 10 Technological Education credit as part of their Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

Skilled trades labour shortage

Canada is facing a huge labour shortage in the skilled trades. 

The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum estimates that, from 2022 to 2026, over 122,000 new journeypersons will be required to sustain workforce certification across Red Seal trades in Canada. Of these, more than 92,000 journeypersons will be concentrated in the top 15 national in-demand Red Seal trades which include cook, industrial electrician, painter and decorator, and welder. 

Also, according to BuildForce Canada, the construction industry needs to recruit 299,200 new workers over the next decade (by 2032), driven predominantly by the expected retirement of 245,100 workers (20 per cent of the 2022 labour force).

However, 76 per cent of Canadians say they would never pursue a skilled trade for themselves, finds a previous 3M Canada report.

How to attract workers into the skilled trades? Modern workforce platform provider Golden Path Solutions has these suggestions:

  1. Educate young people about their options within these industries.
  2. Give students opportunities to interact with your careers early on.
  3. Incentivize young people to pursue these careers.

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