Study confirms low apprenticeship registrations and impact of COVID

A study from Statistics Canada reveals just how much registration and certifications in the skilled trades has dropped in the last three years, adding to the concern over a potential shortage of skilled tradespeople in coming years.

The study, Pathways indicators for registered apprentices in Canada, 2019, was based on apprentices who began training in 2013, and where they were in their programs in 2019. Statistics Canada used this baseline to show the impact of COVID-19 on apprentices finishing their programs, as well as on new apprenticeship registrations and certifications.

It found that COVID-19 has impacted individuals currently in apprenticeship training, through school closures, lay-offs and loss of on-the-job hours. Registration for apprenticeship programs also dropped 43 per cent in eight months in 2020, while certifications fell 48.7 per cent, compared to the same period in 2019.

According to the report, 93,430 apprentices began their training in 2013. By 2019 that cohort of apprentices “were less likely to certify in their trade and more likely to discontinue, compared with those who had registered in 2011 and 2012.”

The report found that the length of apprenticeships varied depending on factors such as the trade, previous training, the province and its economic conditions and unemployment rates, and whether certification is mandatory or not. While Statistics Canada says most trade programs take three to four years to complete, the study found that by 2017 just 20.9 per cent of the cohort had finished training, while 35.4 per cent had dropped out. By 2019, 32.9 per cent had been certified, while 45.4 per cent had ended their training.

Certification rates were higher for Red Seal trades (33.6 per cent overall) and certain trades including plumbers (35.1 per cent), refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics (40.9 per cent), and industrial instrumentation and control technicians (42.2 per cent).

Women accounted for 15.1 per cent of all apprenticeship registrants in 2013, but by 2019 were less likely to be certified than their male cohorts if they were working in trades in which 80 per cent of apprentices were male, such as plumbing.

At the same time, the report shows more women are certifying in the trades than ever before, with 7.8 per cent more women certified in male-dominated trades in 2019 than in 2013, compared to a 23.3-per cent decrease for men. That means there was a certification rate of 18.8 per cent for female plumbers and 35.7 per cent for male plumbers.

To read the report, visit Statistics Canada.


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