Plumbers, carpenters, masons, electricians, machinists, mechanics and crane operators have provided work for about one million people in 2007, as reported by Statistics Canada. Other than a brief decline in the mid-1990’s, skilled trades have seen a steady employment growth to date.
The proportion of trades employment varied by province, with an increase from 9% in 1987 to 15% in 2007 in Alberta, due to the oil and gas boom. Whereas Ontario experienced a significant decrease in trades workers from 41% in 1987 to 36% in 2007 coinciding with the decline in the manufacturing industry. In 1946 Canada’s total employment in manufacturing was 26% and in 2007 it has declined to just 12%!
Studies have shown that 51% of immigrants from 2001 to 2006 arrived with a university degree, far higher than the 20% for the Canadian-born population. Since educational requirements for the trades are below university level it is not surprising that fewer immigrants are employed in the trades, 17% in 2007 compared to non-trades at 21%.
97% of all workers in the trades have full-time jobs and 97% are men. The proportion of men in other occupations has seen a decline in the past, from 54% in 1987 to 50% in 2007.
A CBC article, “Who’s your plumber?”, generated some interesting comments, including one from an individual describing the trades as low prestige, labour intensive, dirty work requiring long hours and travel noting that women don’t want that but they should be encouraged to be equal! It may be significant to note that in a 2006 Census, women accounted for 60% of university graduates.
Any industry reporting steady employment growth, despite the current economic turmoil is welcome news, even if it is a male dominated industry.
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