Edmonton

Demand for trades training remains high despite economic downturn

Even though thousands of people are losing their jobs in the energy sector, NAIT is finding that demand for training in the trades remains high.
NAIT has more than 15,000 people taking training in the trades. (CBC)

The downturn in the price of oil is inspiring some unemployed Albertans to go back to school.

Even though thousands of people are losing their jobs in the energy sector, NAIT is finding that demand for training in the trades remains high.

Stewart Cook, associate dean of the school of trades, says the downturn can be a blessing for some people.

"They haven't taken the opportunity to go to school in the past because they don't want to give up work," he said.

"Now that things have slowed down a little bit, they will take the chance and go to school."

NAIT offers training in 35 different trades including welding, pipefitting and electrical. The college has more than 15,000 apprentices.

Statistics Canada says the number of employment insurance recipients in Alberta has increased for eight consecutive months. There were 22,200 more Albertans collected EI in June, a jump of 74 per cent compared to June 2014. 

At Reliable Welding in Nisku, owner Matt Menass no longer has to search for qualified workers. They are coming to him.

"There are a lot of good guys out there that are walking in the door with resumes," he said.

However, Menass is seeing an impact on his business.

Menass once had 45 people working in two shifts on his shop floor. Now he has 16.

He has replaced some tradespeople with salespeople, in a bid to drum up business.