Sudbury

'Real disconnect' as skilled trades workers struggle to find employment

The Workforce Planning Board for Sudbury & Manitoulin says there is still a “disconnect” between what employees – especially recent graduates – are expecting to find, and what skills employers expect them to come equipped with. 

Average age of journeyperson in trades in now 57 year old, workplace board says

Skilled trades like welders and electricians are still in demand in Alberta according to the province's Labour Minister, Christina Gray. (Shutterstock)

Sudbury employers want to see the provincial government address the nagging problem in skilled trades.

But the Workforce Planning Board for Sudbury Manitoulin says there is still a "disconnect" between what opportunities employees – especially recent graduates – are expecting to find, and what skills employers expect them to come equipped with.

In order to address the gap, the provincial government tasked the 26 planning boards in Ontario with surveying employers on what skilled trades were in demand.

Reggie Caverson, the board's executive director, said her research has found that locally, employers are looking for trained electricians, welders, millwrights and carpenters and transport truck drivers. They're just not always willing to put in the hours to train them.

"We really found that there was a significant divide between employers – there were employers that were very actively engaged with hiring apprentices and did all sorts of things to help apprentices," Caverson said. "Even pay for them when they had to go away for schooling and did all sorts of things that would support an apprenticeship within their company."

(Supplied by Reggie Caverson)

"But on the flip side we saw a lot of employers who felt that it wasn't their job to train apprentices, so they don't hire apprentices and in doing that they're not kind of going trying to fulfil their workforce needs that are going to happen down the road."

Caverson said it is well-known that a trade worker shortage is looming, and has been for over a decade. The average age of a journeyperson, she said, is around 57 years old.

"We know this is going to happen but [some employers] didn't feel it was their job to [hire] without incentives from the government to do the training," she said. "Some of those employers expected fully-trained experienced journeypersons who have like five to eight years of experience, fully-certified and are not willing to train, or wouldn't train without some incentives."

She said some employers said they felt the government should be subsidizing the wages, up to $5 per hour for time spent training. 

Employers who were interested in filling apprenticeship roles also had some suggestions for the board, and the government.

"Probably one of the biggest things that many of the employers said was to reintroduce the trade jobs in high school," Caverson said. "Because a lot of students just do not know anything about the trades, and that was one way, it was kind of a feeder into the system."

"Or even make it mandatory, so that students have that hands-on experience to see if that's something they'd like to do."

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skllls Development has not said what it plans to do with the data.

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