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Study examines apprenticeships and jobs during economic downturn in Canada

Ottawa, ON -- Declines in employment between October 2008 and October 2009 were larger in occupations for which an apprenticeship program exists than in all other occupations combined, according to a new study from Statistics Canada. However,...


Ottawa, ON — Declines in employment between October 2008 and October 2009 were larger in occupations for which an apprenticeship program exists than in all other occupations combined, according to a new study from Statistics Canada. However, between October 2009 and October 2010, the recovery in employment was stronger in these apprenticeable occupations than in all other occupations.

Apprenticeable occupations saw employment losses of 5.7% between October 2008 and October 2009, compared with 1.3% for other occupations.

The decline in employment had the greatest impact on welders, exterior finishing occupations, machinists, carpenters and heavy equipment and crane operators, including drillers.

These decreases were especially reflected by employment losses in the mining and oil and gas extraction, transportation and warehousing, manufacturing and construction sectors, all of which are closely associated with employment in apprenticeable occupations.

On the other hand, the increase in employment between October 2009 and October 2010 was more beneficial to workers in apprenticeable occupations.

Apprenticeable occupations posted gains of 3.3% between October 2009 and October 2010, compared with 2.0% for workers in other occupations. However, employment in October 2010 (2,892,000) remained below its October 2008 level (2,969,000).

Decline between October 2008 and October 2009

Not all workers in apprenticeable occupations were affected in the same way by the employment losses between October 2008 and October 2009.

Welders, exterior finishing occupations, machinists, carpenters and heavy equipment and crane operators, including drillers, experienced the largest employment losses among apprenticeable occupations.

For all occupations combined, the employment downturn took its heaviest toll in Ontario and Alberta, where employment decreased by 3.1% and 3.3%, respectively. However, the biggest losses in apprenticeable occupations occurred in British Columbia (-14.4%) and Quebec (-11.8%).

In British Columbia, the five apprenticeable occupations that experienced the largest losses were electricians (-33.4%), interior finishing trades (-30.0%), food service trades (-29.7%) and heavy equipment and crane operators, including drillers (-28.3%).

In Quebec, the most affected occupations were carpenters (-38.2%), hairstylists and estheticians (-27.0%) and truck drivers (-18.0%).

With respect to apprenticeable occupations, employment declined by 12.3% among workers who had not finished high school, compared with a 1.9% decrease for workers who had an apprenticeship or trades certificate.

During the economic downturn, the number of permanent employees fell by 3.8%, while the number of temporary employees edged up 0.7%. However, the decline in permanent employment in apprenticeable occupations was 7.3%, twice the 3.1% decline in permanent employment in other occupations.

Recovery between October 2009 and October 2010

Between October 2009 and October 2010, employment grew slightly in Canada. The recovery was more beneficial for workers in apprenticeable occupations, as employment growth in those occupations was 3.3%, compared with 2.0% for workers in other occupations.

Although Quebec and British Columbia were hardest hit by the decline in employment in apprenticeable occupations, these two provinces saw the strongest growth rates one year later. Employment rose by 73,400 (+12.1%) in Quebec and by 20,600 (+5.6%) in British Columbia between October 2009 and October 2010.

Those two provinces alone accounted for 85% of the employment gains in apprenticeable occupations over that period.