Huge skilled employee crunch coming - RBC

Think hiring is hard now? Just wait says major bank

Huge skilled employee crunch coming - RBC

Canada is set to see a massive shortage of tradespeople in the next five years, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has warned. RBC research found that Canada will be approximately 10,000 workers short across the Red Seal trades in the next five years, with that number to only set to grow.

The most demand roles will be industrial mechanics, boilermakers, and welders, according to RBC, with the labour crunch to be further heightened as 700,000 people are expected to retire by 2028.

Recruitment efforts among tradespeople have also shown signs of struggle, with only 2,365 hired out of a 3,000 target under the Federal Skills Trades Programme.

"Though the share of women entering male-dominated trades has increased over the last decade, it was still only five per cent of apprenticeship registrations in 2019," the study read. "Meanwhile, immigrants make up more than 21% of the Canadian population but accounted for just 8.7% of apprentices in 2018."

Read more: Skilled-worker shortage for half of employers

Recruitment efforts seem to have been thwarted by outdated stigmas surrounding the industries.

"The stereotype of skilled trades as "blue-collar" jobs involving heavy, dirty physical work best suited to students who lack the aptitude for "white-collar" careers persists," the study indicated.

The growing integration of technology to the industry is also presenting both a problem and a solution, with 25% of Canada's four million tradespeople needing to upskill in the next five years amid digital disruption.

Read more: Low wages, instability to blame for industry labour shortage, workers say

However, with the pandemic forcing a shift to overnight digitization in the industry, more apprentices are saying it reduced their loss of income as well as allowing them to learn at their own pace.

"Greater use of virtual training and digital tools could be a game-changer for trades education, enabling employers to evaluate skills and apprentices to more efficiently obtain their certifications and continue on their path through economic downturns," the study added.


The study made several recommendations to help bridge the gap between supply and demand for tradespeople, noting that co-operation among the industry, educators, and policymakers will make a huge difference. The report recommended that the government increase funding to promote trades in primary and secondary schools. They were also urged to work closely with universities to keep up with the technological changes in the workplace. In addition, policymakers should also look to attract  women by expanding childcare options. Canadian trades must also be "aggressively" promoted to help meet the target intake of immigrants for the sector.

Employers should also explore "payback clauses" to help reduce the number of employees leaving after finishing training. Provincial regulatory authorities were encouraged to pilot programmes to help skill transition between trades, while interprovincial recognition of skilled workers should also be developed beyond Red Seal trades.

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