Ontario Apprenticeship Registrations is up 24% Since Last Year as Contruction Trades Still Facing Labour Shortages in Canada

June 28, 2023

The Ontario government has increased apprenticeship registrations by 24 per cent in the last year – from 21,971 to 27,319 – as more people decide to pursue rewarding, well-paying careers in the skilled trades. 

Contruction Electrican (309A) registrations increased from 4,345 in 2021-22 to 5,525 in 2022-23. Industrial Electrician (442A) registrations increased from 341 in 2021-22 to 507 in 2022-23.

To help deliver the province’s ambitious infrastructure plans, including building 1.5 million homes by 2031, Ontario will need over 100,000 new skilled trades workers this decade. The historic increase in apprenticeship registrations, including a 28 per cent jump among women, follows more than $1 billion in investment in the skilled trades over three years, along with the launch of a new agency: Skilled Trades Ontario.

In addition, the second year of the province’s skilled trades career fairs for students will be expanding to even more cities around the province. More information on the 2023 fairs, cities, and dates will be announced later this summer.

“We are taking action across the board by making it easier for students to have apprenticeships, skills and credentials recognized towards their Diploma,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “This builds on Ontario’s recent decision to require all students to take at least one technological education course — opening up the horizons and opportunities of all students into good-paying STEM and skilled careers.”

“Now is the time to build a rewarding career in the skilled trades,” said Melissa Young, CEO/Registrar of Skilled Trades Ontario.

“With record investments being made in infrastructure, we urgently need skilled workers to meet demand. Skilled Trades Ontario is thrilled to be partnering with the Ministry to promote these exciting opportunities, break down barriers and empower the next generation of skilled trades professionals to succeed.”

Quick Facts

  • 1.3 million people are working in skilled trades-related occupations in Ontario.
  • At least one in three workers in Ontario with an apprenticeship or trade certificate is aged 55 or over and nearing retirement.
  • In total, there were 91,634 apprentices active in Ontario as of April 3, 2023.
  • This year, Ontario is supporting 95 new pre-apprenticeship program projects, which are free for participants and combine classroom training with on-the-job learning.
  • The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) now has more than 72 recruiters across 800 schools so students can learn about the skilled trades at a younger age.

Source

National Apprenticeship Numbers

For context, here are some stats from Statistics Canada and Build Force Canada looking at apprenticeship in Canada as well as labour demand for electrical and all construction trades.

Statistics Canada doesn’t have statistics for 2022-23 available, currently. However, From 2017 to 2020 construction electrican apprenticeship numbers were on a slight decline each year, before ticking up in 2021 by over 3,000 people and around 25,000 for all trades. While industrial electrician apprenticeship numbers have been gradually climbing since 2017.

This graph from Statistics Canada shows the percentages for apprentice registrations and certifications across Canada for 2020-2021.

From 2020 to 2021 there was a 37% rise in electrical apprenticeship registrations in Canada. When it comes to electrician certifications during that period, there was a 43.2% increase, up to 8,109, led by Quebec and Ontario. Quebec increased certifications by 133% compared to the previous year, while Ontario was up 34%.

It’s important to note that the below figures are counting apprentices and not new registrations, which the above press release from Ontario is showing.

Canadian Apprenticeship Numbers

20172018201920202021
All Trades405,702392,202392,202381,039406,203
Construction Electrician53,09451,39350,13647,10350,265
Industrial Electrician10,51211,15712,49512,70813,236
Source: Statistics Canda

Ontario Apprenticeship Numbers

20172018201920202021
All Trades110,90796,00697,29091,32998,184
Construction Electrician13,73413,66214,36413,99215,390
Industrial Electrician2,2801,9111,8931,7731,788
Source: Statistics Canda

Women in Electrical Trade, 2021

CanadaOntarioB.C.AlbertaQuebec
All Trades46,84512,4025,4426,39318,081
Construction Electrican2,703558720585390
Industrial Electrican45310233Not Available255
Source: Statistics Canda

N.L.PEINova ScotiaNew BrunswickManitoba Sask
All Trades5491926693241,830876
Construction Electrican7812964210290
Industrial Electrican2701893Not Available
Source: Statistics Canda

Alberta and Newfoundland & Labrador are the only provinces here that show a steady decline in female apprentices over the five year period. Saskatchewan has gone from 120 to 90 female construction electricians with a slight uptick from 87 to 90 from 2020 to 2021.

When it comes to women in the trades, a key challenge is retention. In Ontario, B.C., and Quebec, women in the construction electrician trade has been climbing steadily from 2017-2021. For industrial electricians we see the same for Ontario and Quebec, while B.C. has gone from 27 to 33 female apprentices and Alberta apparently has zero industrial electrical apprentices. In 2019 and 2020 the number listed on the Stat Can website is ‘0’ and every other year data is ‘not available for specific reference period’.

As the above release mentioned, Ontario estimates they will need 100,000 new skilled workers to meet the demand of infrastructure investments and the aging workforce in the skilled trades. That is across all trades.

When looking at contruction nationally, Build Force Canada predicts Canada will be short 61,400 construction workers by 2032. The increase in construction investments will lead to an approximately 54,100 increase in worker demand, Build Force estimates there will be 245,100 retirements in that period and 237,800 new entrants.

Ontario Apprenticeship Registrations is up 24% Since Last Year as Contruction Trades Still Facing Labour Shortages in Canada
Source: Build Force Canada

These figures are for the contruction industry as a whole, but the electrical trade, which is counted as part of the construction industry, is facing labour shortages as well.

When it comes to the electrical trade specifically, Canada is already in a labour shortage. In the third quarter of 2022 (July to September), Canada had 5,275 job vacancies for electricians, excluding industrial and power systems, which is up 1,995 positions compared to the same period of 2021. 27% of those vacancies have been open for 120 days or more.

Sources:

Build Force Canada – Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward

Statistics Canada:

Electricians: a current shortage

Registered apprenticeship training programs, 2021

Number of apprenticeship program registrations in Red Seal trades

Related

Challenges, Opportunity, and Labour Demand in the Construction Industry

2022 Electrical Contractor Survey: Labour Demand

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