REALITY CHECK: Somewhere in our not-so-distant past, people began to look down on the skilled trades in favour of the so-called “knowledge” workers – narrowly defined as those holding university degrees. But as James Rubec pointed out in his blog post on the Randstad site, “Trades jobs were the first ‘knowledge’ jobs in society. Masons built roads and buildings, welders built ships and cars and today, technical mechanics and skilled tradespeople are building the future economy of Canada and will, over the next 20 years, construct over $300 billion in capital spending for Canadian businesses and municipalities.”

“If we can’t call skilled trades jobs ‘knowledge’ jobs, we’re doing it wrong,” he says. “Becoming a journeyman takes, in some trades like electricians, 8,000 hours of on-the-job work… Tack on three years of classes, tests and certifications and you’re talking more than 15,000 hours of training and learning.”

So while university is one path to a good career, pursuing a skilled trade apprenticeship and earning a Certificate of Qualification is a different – and equally respectable – path to a good career.

Think about it

  • Just like university, apprenticeship is a form of post-secondary education and can take up to 5 years to complete.
    • However, unlike university, apprentices receive paid on-the-job training with an employer 80% of the time they are pursuing their apprenticeship.
    • So you are gaining experience in the real world in your actual chosen profession at the same time you are learning – and getting paid to do it.
    • How many people do you know are able to immediately work in their chosen profession while they are still in school, and get paid a decent wage at the same time?
  • And, as a paid apprentice, you will receive an increase in your wage each year that you progress through your apprenticeship.
    • So not only do you NOT need to take on a part-time job, often in an unrelated field, on top of your school load – this job is part of your school load – you make more money than what a traditional part-time job would offer and you don’t get stuck with a huge debt.
    • Oh, and you still have free time for social activities because you’re working during the day, not after hours in the evening. You’ve got it covered all in one shot.
Tabitha Quintal, 29, is a second-year apprentice instrument technician, earning $42 per hour. Yes, $42 per hour! When she becomes a journeyperson, she’ll be making $54 per hour.

And did you know that the skilled trades are considered “evergreen” professions? In other words, they will always be needed. To maintain a growing economy and to meet the needs of a growing population, something always needs to be built and then what is built needs to be maintained. Check out The Future of Construction.

And once you’re in the skilled trades, experience and additional education can take you anywhere you want to go on your career path, including supervisory and management roles, health and safety, training and education, engineering and science, administration and even entrepreneurship.

So pursuing an apprenticeship to become a skilled tradesperson is not only a respectable path to a good career, it’s an awesome path to a rewarding, well-paying career with a future.

Click on the map below to see what trades are in demand now and over the next 10 years in your province or territory.

Click here to see all Construction Myths.