Why Should You Consider a Skilled Trade? Here Are 4 Solid Reasons
Some people make the mistake of overlooking these vocations. So that means you're already ahead of the pack. You can probably sense the potential to broaden your practical opportunities. Well, you're right to feel that way. In fact, considering a trade makes really good sense for the following reasons:
1. Canada Needs More Qualified Tradespeople
Collectively, the trades account for a huge part of our nation's economic health. But it's been projected that the country might be short as many as one million skilled tradesmen and women by 2020. That's because:
- Many baby boomers are now retiring or will be very soon.
- Young people aren't earning trades qualifications at the same rate as they used to. For instance, in 2011, fewer people aged 25 to 34 had a trades certificate or diploma than people aged 55 to 64. The difference was as big as 35 percent in the mechanical and repair fields, 21.7 percent in the category that includes welders, and 6.3 percent in the construction trades.*
And here's another revealing stat: In 1987, tradespeople accounted for 11.6 percent of Canada's workforce. But by 2011, that number was down to 9.7 percent.** As a result, many employers can't find enough qualified people to fill their job openings.
That all translates to genuine opportunity if you're committed to following through with your ambitions. The country needs you.
2. There's a Trade to Match Almost Any Personality
So much variety exists within the trades that you're bound to find a vocation that suits you very well. Whether you prefer the outdoors, the indoors, working alone, working in a team, building, or repairing, it's more than possible to discover a career option that has what you're looking for.
A big reason for that is the large number of industries that employ tradespeople. Just consider the main ones: Construction, transportation, manufacturing, utilities, and natural resource development. In each one, the skilled trades represent a significant chunk of its labour force—in some cases, the majority of it.
In Canada, a qualified worker can find especially good opportunities in trades such as:
- Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC)—With the country's often extreme temperature swings from season to season, every region needs people with the skills to install and fix things like furnaces, central cooling units, and the related pipes and ventilation systems. Across Canada, this sector was home to 13,647 employers in 2012.***
- Carpentry—As the nation's population grows, so does the need for new houses, commercial buildings, and the furniture and cabinetry that goes inside them. Plus, lots of existing homes and businesses require renovations. When you include framing contractors and companies specializing in finish carpentry, this area had more than 11,900 employers.***
- Electrical work—It takes skilled electricians to make electricity safe and accessible in all the places we reside, visit, and earn our livings. This field had 12,917 employers.***
- Automotive service—Cars, trucks, and motorcycles still provide the dominant form of transportation. And that's not likely to change for a very long time. But, of course, all vehicles require maintenance, and sometimes they need repairs or body work. Mechanics had 22,696 potential employers to choose from.***
- Freight trucking—Supply chain—the movement of all the goods we buy and things we use—requires thousands of drivers and semi-trailers. Workers in this industry make up part of the real backbone of our economy. Counting both general and specialized freight, the sector had upwards of 30,000 employers.***
- Welding—People who specialize in welding work in many types of industries—from steel construction to transportation manufacturing to the production of electronics. And, since the late 1990s, the demand for welders has generally been on an impressive upward trend. In fact, according to estimates, anywhere from 140,000 to 160,000 Canadians worked in the welding and joining sector in 2012 alone.†
The above trades are only a few examples. In reality, Canada provides opportunities for workers in about 200 different trades. Many of them are more service-oriented and, therefore, not always thought about. (Examples include trades like locksmithing, landscaping, and gunsmithing.)
3. Many Trades Provide High-Paying Jobs and Chances to Advance
It's a little-known fact: A lot of trades pay well above the national average for employment income. And that's expected to continue or even become more prominent as more jobs become available and employers compete to hire qualified workers.
Here are some examples of what you can make in some of the hottest fields. (The first number represents the national hourly median wage for the occupation in 2011-2012. The second number shows what some of Canada's highest earners in the trade made.)****
- HVAC mechanic—$27.00; $40.00
- Carpenter—$23.00; $33.00
- Electrician—$27.16; $38.00
- Automotive service technician—$21.88; $32.00
- Auto body repairer—$21.63; $31.25
- Truck driver—$19.70; $30.00
- Truck dispatcher—$20.19; $31.02
Keep in mind that lots of tradespeople get the chance to earn even more by volunteering for overtime or relocating to a particular area of the country. For instance, wages are often the highest in Alberta, BC, Ontario, and Quebec.
Plus, most trades offer clear paths for advancement. With some experience, you could move up into a supervisory, management, or ownership position. And that means getting the higher pay that goes along with it.
4. You Can Make Money While You Train
Learning a trade generally involves a mix of formal schooling and real work experience. In fact, in the most popular trades, apprenticeships provide the main path to certification. And that means you'll spend most of your time training on the job while earning a paycheque. (School usually takes up only about 20 percent of an apprenticeship.)
That's why pursuing a trade makes a whole lot of financial sense. It lets you learn skills for a new career while generating a positive impact on your bottom line.
So, what will you decide to pursue? Use this opportunity to discover a Canadian trade school that can help you start moving forward right away!
* Statistics Canada, National Household Survey, Education in Canada: Attainment, Field of Study and Location of Study, website last visited on March 12, 2014.
** CGA-Canada, Labour Shortages in Skilled Trades—The Best Guestimate?, website last visited on March 12, 2014.
*** Industry Canada, Canadian Industry Statistics, website last visited on March 12, 2014.
**** Government of Canada, Working in Canada, website last visited on March 12, 2014.
† Canadian Welding Association, website last visited on May 30, 2014.