Skilled trades help our economy flourish

The building, development and renovation industry is a major economic engine of our economy and one of the reasons the GTA is one of the most prosperous regions in North America – growing by up to 100,000 people each year.

Our industry creates more than 200,000 jobs in the GTA every year. These include builders, architects, planners and lawyers, among others, but this week I’d like to focus on a very important sector of our industry – skilled trades.

The skilled trades are a vital part of our labour force and includes an array of professionals like electricians, plumbers and drywallers, among others. Yet fewer people are choosing a career in the trades lately, which has resulted in a deficit of skilled workers across Ontario.

Our association is a strong supporter of encouraging more people to consider learning skilled trades. Several years ago BILD committed to give $100,000 over 10 years to George Brown College Centre for Construction and Engineering Technology, enhancing its contribution to an endowment fund started in the 1980s that provides dozens of student bursaries every year.

Several of our members also act as teachers and guests lecturers at various institutions like George Brown to help educate students about the benefits of working as a tradesperson.

With a growing population as a result of migration and an increasing fertility rate, our industry is tasked with building approximately 35,000 new homes annually. As a matter of fact, there are about 250 high-rise projects currently under construction in the GTA, which is the most of any North American city.

That means there will continue to be a high demand for qualified workers to help build quality, complete communities and businesses across our region.

BILD is also actively engaged with the Ontario Home Builders’ Association on modernizing Ontario’s apprenticeship system. We believe that a one-to-one journeyperson-to-apprenticeship ratio can serve as a practical solution to Ontario’s skilled-trades gap.

The current regulations, overseen by the College of Trades, requires one journeyperson on staff for the first apprentice hired, and another three for every additional apprentice. This means a company has to have four journeypersons on staff in order to hire just two apprentices.

This makes it increasingly difficult for young people and new Canadians to gain the necessary experience needed to start a long and successful career in the trades.

We need to take advantage of the potential and opportunities the residential construction sector can provide in growing Ontario’s economy and building a modern skilled-trades workforce. Skilled trade workers represent a critical component of employment and growth and it is imperative to our economy’s well-being that we encourage more young people to consider these well-paid, rewarding careers.

Source: BILD Blogs (Building Industry and Land Development Association)

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