Building futures in the skilled trades

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                Career paths are laid before youth at the biennial Future Building expo

    Special to Ontario Construction Report

                For more than a generation, school children have been conditioned to believe that a university degree is the only path to a full and rewarding career.

    But with Future Building 2014, the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS) is hoping to dispel that myth by putting the spotlight on career options in the skilled trades that are available to today’s students.

    “Pursuing a job in the skilled trades creates opportunities for young people,” says Sean Strickland, chief executive officer of the OCS. “We are facing a shortage of skilled labour in Ontario, which means students who learn a trade have excellent prospects of quickly establishing themselves in a viable, sustainable and honourable career.”

    The next two decades will see a severe shortage of skilled workers in Ontario. The first wave of baby boomers are hitting retirement age and leaving jobs they have held down for 40 years or more, but there are not enough young people coming through the system to fill the vacancies that will be left. The shortage could reach as high as 95,000 workers in just five years.

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    And there is work to be done. Major projects like public transit across the GTA and central Ontario, mining facilities in Northern Ontario, infrastructure projects for the 2015 Pan Am Games and investments in energy infrastructure mean steady growth in construction, and a need for skilled workers.

    “A skilled labour shortage is a real threat to our long-term economic health,” says Strickland. “When the province is working, it grows. A stable and growing labour force is one of the foundations of economic prosperity. Ensuring Ontario has a quality pool of skilled tradespeople from which to draw, ensures Ontario remains a solid province in which to invest, and will keep Ontario growing.”

    The eleventh edition of Future Building — a three-day, hands-on construction career expo aimed at students from Grades 7 to 12 — will take place April 8 to 10 at the Mainway Recreation Centre in Burlington.

    “Over the past generation, there has been an emphasis on a university education as the only path to a good job,” says Strickland. “But there are other options out there. We have great needs in the construction trades, and they provide a very comfortable lifestyle with excellent wages, provide rewarding work and tangible results.”

    For more information, please visit www.futurebuilding.ca. Like Future Building 2014 on Facebook, follow it on Twitter @OntConstSec and keep up with the conversation about the expo using the hashtag #FutureBuilding2014.

    About Future Building 2014

    Future Building is a three-day hands-on construction career exhibition to help young people, teachers, educators and the public develop a positive view of the jobs available in Ontario’s industrial, commercial and institutional construction industry. The exhibition is a joint initiative, co-sponsored by Employment Ontario and the OCSt. Direct and in-kind involvement from the building trade unions and management representatives who work in Ontario’s unionized construction industry is a key part of Future Building.

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