December 12, 2022

Weekly EconMinute—Apprenticeship certificates

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about apprenticeship certificates.

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The final release from Statistics Canada’s 2021 Census was published last month; the topics covered were education and labour.

The notable headline from that release was that Canada leads the G7 for the most educated workforce—with the highest share of working-age people (aged 25 to 64) with a college or university credential (57.5%). This is good news for Canada and those living here. A highly educated population is essential to maintaining a high standard of living and meeting future labour market demands.  

What you might have missed is that while more people have received bachelor’s degrees compared to five years ago, fewer people have pursued apprenticeship certificates in key trades—posing serious challenges for industries that rely on skilled trades.

This has contributed to the record number of job vacancies seen in the construction and manufacturing sectors earlier this year. Unfortunately, labour shortages will only prove to be a worsening challenge as baby boomers continue to retire and demand for skilled labour increases.

Here’s what the data for Alberta shows:

  • Over three-quarters (77%) of apprenticeship certificates in 2021 were in the fields of construction (such as masonry, carpentry, plumbing, and building services); mechanic and repair technologies (including vehicle and equipment maintenance); and precision production (including metal and woodworking)
  • The total number of people with apprenticeship certificates declined across all three categories in Alberta from 2016 to 2021: -4.5% in construction, -20.3% in mechanic and repair technologies, and -6.6% in precision production.
  • In contrast, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia actually saw increases in the number of people with apprenticeships in construction trades over that same period.

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