Algonquin College is reporting a jump in applications for its trades programs this year, as concerns about the local economy have students seeking the relative security of tradeswork.
The school has seen an increase across the board in trades applications, and dramatic jumps in a few programs.
The power line technician program, for example, had hundreds of applicants and a 68 per cent jump in applications from a year ago. There are 48 students now enrolled in the program, with 189 people on the waiting list to get in.
It's possible to earn more than $70,000 as a power line technician after the first five years on the job.
Program coordinator Frank Bowick said it's impossible to keep up with demand.
"It's actually kind of a sad thing because there are all these people who want to get in this program but we don't have the capacity and we probably won't be able to grow the capacity," said Bowick.
"We have a partnership with Hydro Ottawa but they have limited training capacity and realistically the industry has limited capacity...so at 24 per year of new students and that's probably the right number, but it leaves so many people out in the cold."
Welding program interest high
Construction trades and building systems program chair Chris Hahn said the welding and fabrication techniques program also saw a similar rise. The program has 44 spots and currently has 109 people on its waiting list.
Hahn said students are starting to think differently about the trades partly because they realize these kinds of jobs can't be outsourced.
"The house has to be built here. Your car has to be fixed here. The head of hair has to be cut here. And all the trades that are around those activities, that gives some security the job is going to remain here," said Hahn.
Student Geoff Landon-Brown used to dream of a future in criminology, but as governments reduce budgets and layoff staff, he decided it would be safer to become a welder — just like his father.
"My parents have family friends that have lost their jobs lately. And looking at my dad's friends from the trades they're always saying just go into the trades and it looks like it's going to pay off," said Landon-Brown.