A sudden Arctic cold snap occurs, and the pipes burst in your home. The plumber says they are understaffed and overwhelmed with the workload. They cannot guarantee an arrival time nor if they can even fix the problem. The roofer you hired two summers ago has retired and you cannot locate another to clean the moss-covered shingles. Such are the obstacles faced by regular Canadians due to the massive skilled trade shortage in Canada.

From a report in 2022 by the Royal Bank of Canada entitled "Powering Up: Preparing Canada's skilled trades for a post-pandemic economy", Canada's workforce will see a 10,000-worker deficit in 56 nationally recognized Red Seal trades over the next five years — a scarcity that could be widened tenfold when 250 provincially regulated trades are added into the mix.

These worrisome statistics translate to direct impact in everyday Canadians and their cost of living. Simply put, with the lack of skilled trade workers, higher prices are expected for homes as contractors, electricians, masonries are in short supply. Coupled with rising labour costs, supply chain breaks, and an economy recovering from the impacts of COVID-19 and it is evident that Canadians will need an immediate surge of new individuals invested in the skilled trades to remedy the crisis.

At present, the effects of this shortage will only be more pronounced as many current skilled trade workers retire, with no adequate handover to new apprentices. Employment and Social Development Canada estimated in a 2022 news release that approximately 700,000 skilled trades workers are expected to retire between 2019 and 2028, creating an ever-growing need to recruit and train thousands more.

The Canadian Federal Government has acknowledged the shortage of skilled trade workers and has begun an multi-platform advertising campaign to "promote the skilled trades as a strong first-choice career path for youth and young adults" as they acknowledge that around 75,000 new apprentices will need to be hired per year in the next five years to meet the demand for skilled journeypersons in Red Seal trades.

Provincially, Canada is making strides in addressing the shortage as seen with Alberta modernizing its skilled trades framework with the proclamation of the Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Education Act in June 2021. The new legislation is the largest update of trades and apprenticeship legislation in 30 years and removes previous barriers-to-entry for the trades. Ontario launched Skilled Trades Ontario a Crown agency promoting the skilled trades, developing the latest training and curriculum standards, and providing a streamlined user-friendly experience for tradespeople.

While these programs are aimed at resolving the shortage gap domestically, immigration of skilled trade workers into Canada can also help alleviate the shortage felt by Canadians immediately. Canada has offered a co-op program specific to skilled trade workers and enables an applicant to obtain a study permit to study a skilled trade in a designated learning institute in Canada and immediate access to the Canadian skilled trade labour market. Once enrolled in the institution, students will be trained and matched with a full-time job experience within the skilled trade industry and gain income between CAD 26,000 to CAD 35,000 over 41 weeks. This program will provide a fast-tracked pathway to a Canadian work permit and Canadian permanent residency status for the applicant and their dependent family members if additional language and residency requirements are met.

Overall, the co-op program presents itself as a unique opportunity for people wishing to gain income into Canada and work into Canada in the skills trade.

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