MRO Magazine

Where are the skilled workers?


July 11, 2007
By PEM Magazine
Canada continues to face a shortage of skilled workers. Last year, the Canadian Labour and Business Centre predicted that employers will need more than 400,000 workers in the next 15 years. With the average age of a tradesperson between 50 to 55 and many set to retire, industry has to take action now.

The Toronto-based Council for Automotive Human Resources (CAHR) released findings of its “Running Near Empty” report, which addresses the skilled trades and apprenticeship shortage that will impact Canada’s automotive industry. In the report, the CAHR says the auto industry needs access to skilled workers in the future, so it can remain globally competitive and profitable. Key findings of the report include: Skilled trades supply: One-third of companies surveyed in the report had, or expected to have, trouble recruiting skilled workers;

  • Support for workplace-based training: At most, apprentices start contributing a net positive return
  • within one to two years from the start of training;
  • Attraction and retention strategies: Employers attract and retain skilled workers by offering competitive salaries, positive working conditions and recognizing their contributions;
  • Educational system: High schools need to offer more opportunities to acquire technical skills that are needed to enter an apprenticeship;
  • Female apprentices/journeypersons: Women are seriously under-represented in apprenticeship and journeyperson careers;
  • Training costs: Reforms are needed to reduce the cost of apprenticeship training, or to share the training burden more evenly. This can be accomplished by encouraging more companies to train apprentices; and
  • Need for sectoral initiatives: There are a number of strategic areas where the sector [auto industry] can work together to address the skilled trades shortage. This includes public-policy development as it pertains to apprenticeships.

As Canada’s largest industrial employer, one in seven jobs are tied directly or indirectly to the auto industry. The CAHR must be congratulated for its leadership efforts. The “Running Near Empty” report is a step in the right direction.

Robert Robertson, Editor
PEMAC Allied Member