Canadian Contractor

Patrick Flannery   

What trades shortage?

Canadian Contractor labour skilled

Is there a skilled trades shortage or not? Depends what you call a “skilled tradesperson.” Just about everyone in government and unions agrees there is a shortage. But some economists have tried to argue there is not. David’s note below may explain the discrepancy. There is no shortage of untrained, uninsured, unlicensed, non-fee-paying, under-the-table, truck-and-ladder people to take work. But there IS a shortage of professional tradespeople – perhaps exactly because it is so common and cheaper to be one of the other kind.

I worked as a construction and maintenance electrician for thirty years, laid off all the time. There was never a shortage of electricians in Ontario, never. Most all tradesman are laid off at one time or another; that’s why they call us journeymen. Made $40 an hour back in 1999. Been offered $20 in the last few years. Hiring agencies now make things worse; middle men taking wages and benefits from hard-working people. I feel bad for the future of the trades. And yes, the wages are very low and benefits few and far between. Joe the Plumber is very correct in his plight, I know from experience.

  • David


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1 Comment » for What trades shortage?
  1. Gord says:

    I agree with David. I also believe, due to competition, lower wages/benefits and homeowner budget demands, that even the Truck and Ladder guys may find it hard slogging in the future. Sure, interest rates are low and not changing anytime soon, but is there a limit to the amount of available cash & credit to continue to feed the insatiable appetite of home renovations and investment properties? I’ve been proven wrong in the past, but I continue to wonder.

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