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According to a recent report by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF), apprenticeship registrations in Canada’s construction industry have declined significantly due to COVID-19, while many journeypersons are set to retire, which combined could lead to a shortage of some trades.

The report indicates the pandemic has taken its toll on the apprenticeship system, heightening the risk that there may not be enough certified journeypersons in some building trades four or five years from now.

Trades such as bricklayers, boilermakers and welders are not training enough apprentices to meet the demand nationally. The report, titled Apprentice Demand in Red Seal Trades: A 2021 National Labour Market Information Report, was done by Prism Economics and Analysis. It draws together the latest apprenticeship trends and projections to provide a forward-looking assessment of demand and supply for trade certification.

While the industry will need 1,947 individuals to obtain bricklayer certification in the five-year period from 2021 to 2025, the number of projected completions is 1,143. For boilermakers, 1,847 are needed but only 766 completions are expected, while 10,032 welders need to be certified but just 5,868 are expected.

Preliminary results from Statistics Canada indicate that overall apprenticeship registrations across Canada dropped 43% in 2020 and certifications declined by nearly 49%.

According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges to Canada’s apprenticeship system, as mandated shutdowns and social distancing measures created new administrative challenges and imposed many obstacles to the delivery of in-school training, testing and certification.

Although new registrations and certifications are expected to rebound in 2021, the report noted the impact of COVID-19 has been significant and is likely to increase the supply risk for new certified workers over several years.

Over the next five years, the report suggests Canada will need 163,785 new journeypersons to sustain workforce certification levels across 56 Red Seal trades in Canada. To keep pace with the requirements, more than 375,026 apprentices will be needed and 195,800 of them will be required for the top 15 Red Seal trades.

Moving forward, the report notes the economic and employment growth outlook suggests that between 2021 and 2025, new registrations in Red Seal programs will see a recovery in 2021 with continued growth thereafter in line with employment growth, rising from 59,800 to 63,800 new registrations per year.

View the Full Report