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Want skilled workers? Showcase the trades to young people

The Apprenticeship Forum has found that teenagers are more interested in careers in trades than they were nine years ago, but they aren't getting much support from schools, employers or the government.


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October 23, 2013 by Robert Koci

By Brynna Leslie

There’s no doubt  industry is worried about the future of skilled trades. Despite this, a recent study by The Apprenticeship Forum has found that only 19 per cent of skilled-trades employers are training people for tomorrow.

The forum is a non-profit group based in Ottawa that promotes apprenticeship innovation. In a recent survey of 870 high school students, aged 13 to 17, the group determined that young people across the country are more willing to consider careers in the trades than they were nine years ago.

“And a vast majority believe being a plumber, welder, electrician or auto mechanic should be valued on par with being a lawyer, doctor or accountant,” writes Sarah Watts-Rynard, executive director of The Apprenticeship Forum, in the Montreal Gazette.

But Watts-Rynard says students aren’t getting encouragement from parents, guidance counselors or teachers. She adds that sitting at a desk for four years in high school isn’t going to do much to fuel greater interest in trades careers.

“A good place to start would be to increase the emphasis on hands-on learning during secondary school,” writes Watts-Rynard.

Watts-Rynard notes that the forum’s research had a number of other disturbing findings, including the persistent old-school stereotype that men are better suited for careers in trades.

You can read more about the forum’s findings in Watts-Rynard’s own words here.