Ottawa

Skilled trade workers wooing youth as shortage looms

Skilled trade workers in Ottawa are trying to persuade young people to consider construction trades for a career as a shortage looms.

Industry will need to fill about 100,000 jobs in next decade

Students get the opportunity to talk with trade workers and get hands-on experience. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

Skilled trade workers in Ottawa are trying to persuade young people to consider construction trades for a career as a shortage looms. 

Within the next decade the industry will need about 100,000 additional workers across the province, according to Robert Bronk, CEO of the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS). 

"So we need new workers getting into the system and taking over from those jobs. It will be really important, especially with all the infrastructure spending that's going on with all three levels of government," Bronk said.

Industry will need to fill about 100,000 jobs in the next decade. 0:35

OCS is hosting its annual Future Building exhibition at the EY Centre in Ottawa this week. The hands-on experience is expected to attract over 6,000 students over three days. 

Students from middle schools and high schools will have the chance to speak with trade workers and experience a variety of construction trades including welding, bricklaying, carpentry and pipe fitting. 

The interactive showcase includes virtual reality welding, a jackhammer station and walking on a giant iron beam.

This student is learning how to lay bricks at the Future Building exhibition in Ottawa. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

Grade 11 student Amy Found said she had always considered the trades as an option because she likes the idea of doing an apprenticeship where she will get paid, while also learning. 

The 16-year-old said she isn't interested in going to post-secondary school for four years. 

"I've talked a lot with the insulation trades and the union there which is really interesting because I didn't realize how kind of green focused they were," Found said.

"They're focusing a lot on recycled materials and saving money for businesses which I knew nothing about, which is kind of cool," she added.

Grade 11 student Amy Found said she is drawn to the construction trades because she enjoys working with her hands. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

Ottawa infrastructure boom

Angus Maisonneuve, the manager of UA Local 71 in Ottawa, said it's especially important for students to learn about the skilled trades because they don't have as much access to that information in high school as they did in the past. 

He represents plumbers, welders and steam fitters in Ottawa.

"There is a shortage. We have a lot of work coming up in the very near future and the trades haven't been a big draw in the past few years and we're trying to pique some interest to get them involved and wanting to come and work with us, in Ottawa and across the province," Maisonneuve said.

Ottawa is currently in the midst of an "infrastructure boom" according to OCS with projects including the rehabilitation of the Parliament buildings and the $2.1-billion light rail system.

Representatives from a variety of trades help students learn new skills. (Robyn Miller/CBC)