Nfld. & Labrador

Outside the tool box: trades programs see drop in enrolment

Academy Canada has noted that enrolment in its trades programs has dropped between 25 to 30 per cent in the last year.

With the job market flooded with skilled trade workers, what should new students consider?

James Loder Director of Admissions at Academy Canada says trades enrolment has dropped 25-30 per cent. (Academy Canada)

Fewer people are applying — and being accepted — for trades programs at Newfoundland and Labrador's largest independent career college, although an educator says the long-range market for new hires is not necessarily bleak. 

James Loder, the director of admissions for  Academy Canada, says people need to look far ahead when deciding on a career path.

"Think three, four, five, six, seven years down the road and what their needs are going to be," Loder, who is also vice-president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Career Colleges, told the St. John's Morning Show

"One of the problems I think that we're experiencing in the province right now is people are thinking in a very short-term bubble, thinking what [are] the circumstances today," Loder said.  

The softening economy has affected enrolment at Academy Canada's three campuses. 

"The trades programs I'd say we're down around 25 or 30 per cent in terms of the number of people we've been accepting," he said. 

Think three, four, five, six, seven years down the road and what their needs are going to be.- James Loder, director of admissions for  Academy Canada

"What we've done over the last 12 months or so is that we've actually reduced the number of students we're accepting into our trades programs, just to adjust to that labour market," Loder said.  

However, he noted that enrolment "in non-trades has increased over the last year fairly significantly." 

The college takes supply and demand in job markets into consideration with the programs it offers.

"It's nothing at all unusual to changing it to the needs of the labour market." Loder said.

College admissions are changing focus

"Because we have the luxury of offering a multiplicity of programs, we can change our energies and our focus from one area to another. That's a pretty regular thing for us — we've done that for 30 years."

Although there had been reliable work in the trades, graduates may not find work in Newfoundland and Labrador's job market.

Academy Canada offers a variety of non-trades programs allowing them to change their focus in shifting job markets. (Academy Canada )

"They're tending to need to go, not just within the province. They need to go across the country to find those first opportunities and start building up their apprenticeships," he said.

While there's a flood in the market of people trained in the trades, the college's non-trade graduates are experiencing success in their fields, he said. 

"People are getting better at doing their homework and doing their research and coming in and talking about the things that they're interested in and we adjust ourselves accordingly," Loder said.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show