Major Labour Shortage Means Huge Demand for Skilled Trades and Technology Workers

Trades student in a college classroom using an automatic electrical welding tool


For the varied fields that make up skilled trades and technology, it’s a perfect storm: unprecedented demand for talent combined with an impending tidal wave of retirements. All told, it means there will soon be a huge need for people in construction, manufacturing, motive power, service, and technology.

The lesson for high school students searching for a career as well as experienced professionals looking to change careers: look no further than skilled trades and technology.

Jobs available right out of college

The good news is that, for individuals hoping to start or elevate their careers, it won’t take a lot of time or training to find work. That’s because many employers in the skilled trades and technology are hiring people right out of college, with most programs requiring only two to three years of education.

The bad news is that, should Ontario fail to direct more people into skilled trades and technology, many organizations in these areas will struggle to grow. That could mean many things, from fewer homes being built to organizations moving out of province to trouble for homeowners in securing the services of electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and more.

Today, the skilled trades and technology labour shortage is already delaying important projects, with many Canadian builders pushing out timelines for critical infrastructure ventures as they scramble to fill key skilled trades roles.1

Reasons to enter the skilled trades

The answer, according to most experts, is to encourage more young people to enter skilled trades programs at Ontario’s colleges, bucking a generations-long trend of gently guiding high school graduates into university.

Aside from a worker shortage, there are many reasons for an individual to choose a college-based skilled trades career path over university, including:

  • Median incomes for Canada’s skilled trades can range from $80,000 to $100,000, well over the average annual salary of about $55,000.2
  • The average hourly wage for construction workers reached $33 in 2019, up 10% from $30 in 2015.3
  • Colleges typically offer credentials that take less time to acquire – for example, a certificate can be completed in a year, while many diplomas can be achieved in two.
  • College tuition tends to be much lower than university tuition, especially when one considers that most university degrees take four years to complete.