Local skilled trades education needed

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Peter Gauthier

Even with the pandemic in full force, there’s a severe shortage of properly certified skilled trades persons in Canada, including the Outaouais. A fully certified trades person can be assured of steady employment with excellent financial compensation and many opportunities for advancement. But the problem for many trade aspirants is recognized certification. This usually means Red Seal certification from an appropriate
post-secondary educational institute and completion of an apprenticeship.

Skilled trade education is a provincial responsibility and admittance to these vocational schools usually require completing high school. Red Seal certification is an enhanced educational accomplishment established by the Federal Government and recognized by various provincial educational institutes. In essence, Red Seal certification is recognized by all provinces as meeting the educational requirements of the specific trade.

However, there are a few wrinkles. The Federal Government currently lists 55 trades under the program, but some provinces do not recognize certification requirements for some. Thus, Quebec recognizes only 41 of these; certification for the other trades is defined as voluntary qualification. While certification for the auto mechanic trade
is a requirement in most provinces, it’s not on the list of Red Seal trades in Quebec.

The next major wrinkle for those who completed their high-school education in English is there is only one Red Seal trade education available in the Outaouais – welding. For all others, the prospective student must choose Montreal or Ottawa (Algonquin College). Needless to say, most choose Ottawa, but this has some consequences. Many students feel that, if they must go to Ontario to complete their education and find it easier to get employment in Ontario, they might as well live in Ontario.

A third wrinkle is the role of the trade unions in Quebec. In simple terms, some of the enforced requirements of the trade unions limit opportunities for qualified trades persons.

All of this has one result – MRC Pontiac and the entire Outaouais is losing its badly needed certified trades people. As the recovery from the pandemic becomes more prominent, a complete review of training and certification for trades people must be completed. The economic and social impact of certified trades people must be addressed if the recovery is to have any positive effect on our region. No recovery can be accomplished without addressing the shortage that currently exists and is worsening under the present system. We must be prepared to invest in training for our youth and future skilled trades persons here, not in another province or distant cities.