Skilled trades organizations and companies are campaigning in Ottawa this week to get more young people to consider programs like construction, welding and plumbing.
The Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists made its pitch to students on Tuesday at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology, where a wind-turbine competition brought out teams from high schools across the city.
Isidore Leblond, the CEO of the council, said about one million workers in Canada will retire by 2020, and those numbers will include many trades workers, a group that already skews older.
"We're facing a shortage in Canada of about 80,000 technology workers today. So never mind 2020, it's here today," said Leblond. "So as people retire, we need other people to step forward."
Leblond said his organization is reaching out not only to students, but to schools and teachers as well.
"The association has taken the stand that we need to go and help influence and educate the educators," said Leblond.
"What we're trying to give people is the adaptable skills to prepare them for a workforce that they may go into that they may adapt to, they need good grounding and skills to work in teams and really communicate."
Mark Edey, whose company EdeyFX partnered with Algonquin College to help launch the wind-turbine competition, said trades workers are needed across several industries, including the renewable energy sector.
"A lot of kids instantly think that they want or need to go to university," said Edey. "The skill sets they're learning at college are the kind of hands-on this country needs to move forward in my opinion."