Thursday, March 21, 2013

The "shortage" of skilled trades people

There is an interesting article in this morning's Globe and Mail examining the assertion that there is a need to training more tradespeople and fewer artsie types. The crux of the article is that trades training is associated with:

  • higher rates of unemployment after graduation, 
  • higher life-time chance of unemployment, and 
  • lower income. 

Nothing wrong with the jobs themselves, just that the career prospects are often overblown by industries seeking to expand the labour pool (which, coincidentally, lowers corporations wage costs...hmmm).

Although there are regional differences (there are shortages of all kinds of workers in Alberta, including tradespeople), the question this raises is whether adding additional training capacity in the trades (and shrinking it in other fields) makes sense? More broadly, does it make sense for free-market-lovin' governments to intervene significantly in program profiles of post-secondary institutions?

-- Bob Barnetson