Skilled Trades Careers in Canada – 57 per cent of parents favour university as a post-secondary option

Parental influence over the education and career decisions of their children make them an important Capture d’écran 2016-05-20 à 08.55.09target audience for apprenticeship stakeholders committed to promoting apprenticeship and the skilled trades. To inform future career awareness outreach efforts and youth recruitment strategies, CAF-FCA undertook a national survey with parents across Canada in 2014, comparing results to findings from a parallel investigation in 2004.

Main Findings

Over the past decade, parent views remain relatively consistent. Parents continue to view skilled trades careers and tradespeople positively. Skilled trade careers remain appealing to parents because of the job opportunities available, good pay and the opportunity to own a business. Despite these benefits, parents favour university as a post-secondary option. A degree is still the preferred credential, with 57 per cent in 2014 saying it was the top choice for their child and less than a quarter of parents ranking a college diploma or Certificate of Qualification the same way.

Almost a quarter of parents still believe the trades are for weak students (18 per cent in 2004 and 21 percentin2014). As technological change occurs, skilled trades employers are emphasizing requirements for advanced math and science skills and placing a premium on the capacity to learn and adapt. These realities make challenging misperceptions like these important.

There are a few areas where parental views changed significantly. Notably, parents believe they have a better understanding of skilled trades careers:

    • In 2014, 46 per cent of parents believed they were aware of the available career options in the trades, compared to 31 per cent in 2004.
    • A greater proportion of parents said they understood how much money could be made in the skilled trades (67 per cent in 2014 versus 53 per cent in 2004).
    • In 2014, 80 per cent of parents agreed that the “skilled trades offer an opportunity to earn income immediately while being trained” versus 67 per cent in 2004.

A higher number of parents sought out information about skilled trades careers, a sign they are interested in learning more (34 per cent in 2014 versus 22 per cent in 2004). The internet was the main source of career information, highlighting the importance of having accessible and engaging websitesforparents. In2014,only13percentof parents felt guidance counsellors had encouraged their child to consider career options in the trades, indicating more work needs to be done to ensure guidance counsellors have good information to share with youth and their parents.

More parents associate hard physical labour with trade occupations than in the past (52 per cent in 2014 from 41 per cent in 2004). Parents may not understand the impact of technology in mitigating the physical strength required to succeed in many tradesoccupations. Careerawarenessmessaging may be more effective in overcoming this bias with a greater focus on technological advances and by encompassing a range of journeyperson experiences, including those of women in traditionally male roles.

In general, parental responses were more positive than those of youth, especially when asked about their impressions of tradespeople and skilled trades careers. While parents say they encourage their children to consider the skilled trades as a career option, youth did not agree. Sixty-two per cent of parents in 2014 (60 per cent in 2004) said they were “likely” to recommend a career in the skilled trades to their child, but only 32 per cent of youth in 2013 (26 per cent in 2004) said their parents had encouraged them.

  • Parents also offered suggestions for improving career awareness efforts:
  • Provide clearer information about apprenticeship requirements
  • Give children more opportunities to learn about the skilled trades at school
  • Provide more guidance about how to find an employer sponsor and how parents can help
  • Encourage teachers to talk positively about careers in the skilled trades
  • Provide better information about the secondary school courses needed to prepare youth for skilled trades careers

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Apprenticeship analysis: parent perceptions of careers in the skilled trades

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