Now more than ever, skilled tradespeople are in high demand to fill well-paying jobs and build rewarding careers. The most recent projections estimate that about 700,000 skilled trades workers are expected to retire between 2019 and 2028, creating an ever-growing need to recruit and train thousands more.
This is why the Government of Canada is making targeted investments to create good jobs, grow the economy and build a Canada where nobody gets left behind.
On April 26, Irek Kusmierczyk, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, announced over $7 million in funding for 29 projects under Stream 1 of the Union Training and Innovation Program. The announcement was made on behalf of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough.
These projects will help unions across Canada improve the quality of training through investments in equipment and materials leading to a more skilled, inclusive, certified and productive trades workforce.
According to BuildForce Canada, the construction industry needs to recruit 309,000 new workers over the next decade (2021 to 2030), driven predominantly by the expected retirement of 259,100 workers (22 percent of the current work force).
Additionally, a report by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum revealed that to meet the demand for skilled journeymen in Red Seal trades, an average of around 75,000 new apprentices will need to be hired per year in the next five years. Top trades most at risk of not meeting the demand include welder, industrial mechanic (millwright), bricklayer and boilermaker.
Kusmierczyk made the announcement as part of his address at the Canada’s Building Trades Unions Annual Conference in Ottawa. The event attracted a wide audience, including provincial leaders, construction industry leaders such as the Insulators LMCT and union building trades leaders.
“Canada needs more skilled trades workers – to build our homes, to engineer new, sustainable solutions, and so much more,” said Kusmierczyk. “That’s exactly why we’re investing in our unions and trade workers across Canada, including multiple projects in Windsor–Tecumseh. When someone wants to become a carpenter, or a welder or a contractor, we want to make sure they have the training they need, wherever they are, to do it.”
“There’s never been a more exciting time to join the skilled trades,” said Carla Qualtrough. “The demand is there, and we’re making sure that the training and resources are too. We’re working with partners like Canada’s Building Trades Unions so that Canadians aren’t just aware of the opportunities that the skilled trades present, they’re also ready and able to seize them.”
The Government of Canada strongly supports the building trades, and the announcement includes new measures and funding under Budget 2022; support for students; the transition to a low-carbon economy; modernization of the Employment Insurance program; and how the government will invest in the next generation of the workforce.
Budget 2022 investments will help apprentices from under-represented groups – including women, newcomers, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people and racialized Canadians – begin and succeed in careers in the building trades through mentorship, career services and job matching. It also proposes to launch a new union-led advisory table to bring together building trades unions and trade associations to advise the government on priority investments to help workers navigate the changing labor market with a particular focus on skilled mid-career workers in at-risk sectors and jobs.
Measures in Budget 2022 to support tradespeople include:
- $84.2 million over four years to double funding for the Union Training and Innovation Program to help apprentices from under-represented groups begin and succeed in careers in the skilled trades through mentorship, career services and job matching.
- The new Labour Mobility Deduction, which would provide tax recognition on up to $4,000 per year in eligible travel and temporary relocation expenses to eligible tradesmen, tradeswomen and apprentices. This measure would apply to the 2022 and subsequent taxation years.
- $2.5 million in 2022–23 for Employment and Social Development Canada to launch a new union-led advisory table that brings together building trades unions and trade associations. The table will advise the government on how to help workers navigate the changing labor market, with a particular focus on skilled, mid-career workers in at-risk sectors and jobs.
- The Government of Canada is investing nearly $1 billion annually in apprenticeship supports through grants, loans, tax credits, Employment Insurance benefits during in-school training, project funding, and support for the Red Seal program. Announced in Budget 2019, the Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy will strengthen existing apprenticeship supports and programs by helping apprentices and key apprenticeship stakeholders, including employers, to participate and succeed in the skilled trades.
“Canada’s Building Trades Unions applauds the Government of Canada for its support for skilled trades workers in Budget 2022,” said Sean Strickland, Executive Director of Canada’s Building Trades Unions. “The labour mobility tax deduction for tradespeople is something we have advocated for for over two decades. It will support working Canadians and families to travel to where the work is, helping to address labour availability across the country. The doubling of the Union Training and Innovation Program—which has already been immensely helpful in its first few years of operations—further supports training and education, ensuring we are able to deliver the workforce of tomorrow. We are proud to celebrate these policies at our ‘Stronger Now’ conference, which speaks to the challenges we’ve faced over the last several years and the strength of our workforce, which build Canada’s infrastructure. Canada’s Building Trades Unions knows that together, we’re stronger now than we’ve ever been.”