Last year, new registrations in apprenticeship programs and certifications in the trades were up for the first time since 2014, reports Statistics Canada. These increases coincided with strong employment growth in Canada over the past two years, particularly in the construction industry. The number of new registrations in apprenticeship programs increased 11.6 per cent from 2017, noted the recently released report on 2018 registered apprenticeship training programs.
There was a significant increase for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters reported in 2018. Plumbers were the third-highest for registrations in Red Seal trades with a total of 20,025. Steamfitter or pipefitter ranked just below, coming in seventh with a total of 11,415 registrations and certificates.
Not surprisingly, registration for the plumber, pipefitter and steamfitters, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics, sheet metal workers, and construction workers trades were predominantly male.
However, there has been a growing number of women registering in apprenticeship programs. Despite the steady rise, women remain underrepresented across more apprenticeship programs. This is evident in normally female-dominated trades, such as hairstylists, which has even seen a decrease over the years. Women apprentices were nine times more likely than men to report harassment or discrimination during an apprenticeship.
Despite these challenges, more women are enrolling in apprenticeship programs traditionally occupied by men – 2.2 per cent as plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters. The proportion of women enrolling in these programs has risen by 3.9 percentage points since 2008.
Quebec leads growth
Quebec had the largest growth in new registrations among the provinces with over half. British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario reported notable increases, at 1,490, 1,380, and 1,210 respectively.
The increases in new registrations coincided with sustained employment growth nationally in 2017 and 2018. Employment growth was most pronounced in British Columbia (3.6 per cent), Quebec (2.4 per cent), and Ontario (2.3 per cent).
“Apprenticeships in Canada are primarily work-based training programs. Success in the trades can be closely linked to the health of local labour markets since apprentices seek to maintain suitable employment to fulfill their on-the-job hours and technical training,” said the report.
New registrations rose for the first time in Alberta since the fall in crude oil prices in 2014. The economic difficulties of the province were also felt by apprentices, whose training opportunities were limited by the number of jobs available during this period. New registrations fell by almost half from 2014 to 2017.
There were also notable declines in Saskatchewan and Newfoundland/Labrador. These three provinces accounted for 60.2 per cent of the national decrease in new registrations during this period.
Following four consecutive years of decrease, the number of certificates granted in the trades rose 6.6 per cent to 54,520 in 2018. Employment grew by 4.2 per cent across Canada from 2016 to 2018, notably in the construction industry, according to the results from the Survey of Employment, Payroll and Hours report.
In Quebec, most of the increase included plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters.
Among apprentices, most of the increase in certificates came from those with a Red Seal endorsement.