2021 Trends In Trades

Reflective Writing Assignment PIDP 3100

For many years, experts have warned of a shortage of trained tradespeople. The COVID-19 pandemic was a major disruptor, and the current re-organization of the labour market  is shining a spotlight on the changes needed. During a recent CanData conference, all panellists confirmed that we are experiencing a “labour shortage” although it becomes clear that the problem runs deeper than simply having enough bodies to replace retiring tradespeople.

This article in the Daily Commercial News reports on a conference of experts: No Simple Answer to Solve the Massive Skilled Labour Shortage gives numbers and points out some of the major obstacles.

“Approximately 228,000 individuals will be entering the industry over this 10-year period,” said Bill Ferreira [executive director of BuildForce Canada], “We will be losing approximately 260,000 individuals to retirement over the decade (leaving a recruitment gap of 31,000 workers which increases when coupled with demand growth) requiring the country to find an additional 80,000 individuals to work in the industry.”

Daily Commercial News

Lindsay Kearns, co-ordinator with the BC Centre For Women in the Trades raises an interesting question that needs to be explored by industry and political leaders. She said one hypothesis is that the skilled trades labour force problem isn’t actually about supply, it’s about underlying prejudice that is preventing certain workers from accessing and thriving in skilled trades careers.

“Is it possible that there isn’t actually a labour shortage in the skilled trades sector but instead what we are looking at is a labour pool that’s been very limited on who it’s drawing from?” Kearns asked.

As someone that was trained in Europe, I have long questioned why companies don’t invest more in training their employees but leave it up to society and the state to supply trained workers. The failure to do so becomes more obvious during times of short supply.

At the same time, we are currently observing lower registration numbers in our trades courses. Personal circumstances of many students have changed dramatically and the insecurity caused by the pandemic has caused a lot of people to adopt a “wait and see” attitude. The financial impact of the pandemic is certainly another factor.

We will see where this development will lead, but it seems clear to me that we should take the opportunity to affect major changes to solve this crisis.

The welcome push of the BC Government to finally make trades certification mandatory in more trades will only put pressure on the labour force in these industries.

Women In Trades

One way to help solve the current shortage of qualified tradespeople is attracting more women into the skilled trades.

This interview with Lindsay Kearns reveals some of the challenges facing women entering the trades.


She points out that the number of women in the trades still hovers at 4%. The contributors are gender bias, child care issues and pay equity. These issues will have to be solved in order to increase that percentage.

Gender Bias

Male tradespeople have to actively work on changing the often negative environment towards women.

In the interview, Lindsay points to a program that I am planning to get involved in, the “Be More Than a Bystander” Program.

Developed in 2011 by the Ending Violence Association BC (EVA BC) and the BC Lions the Be More Than a Bystander program recognizes that most men care deeply about the women and girls in their lives and in the world, and engages those men to take ownership and play an active role in ending gender-based bullying, harassment and violence.

I am looking forward to taking the three-day train-the-trainer workshop that will enable me to present the program to instructors and groups of tradespeople. By making men aware of the impact their actions are having, I believe that we can change the environment that makes it hard for women to thrive in a male-dominated trades environment.

Pay Equity

Another crucial change that needs to be made by employers is pay equity for women. It is one of the main reasons why we can’t retain trained women in the trades.

This article in Talent Canada points to a study that found that women are still only paid at half the rate of their male counterparts. This is not acceptable and needs intervention by unions and governments in my opinion.

As a father of daughters and someone working in the trades training industry, I look forward to contributing to a cultural change in all the trades. This will help deal with the issue of tradesperson shortages and, frankly make a difference in society as a whole.

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