With the long foreseen skills shortage now upon us, it is evident that employment prognosticators were correct.
Want a well paying job? Get a trade. There is a dire need for tradespeople, and now.
The marketplace is often slow to react to change, and in this case, those entering the workforce are still getting up to speed on the solid work opportunities that await those who have a trade.
Many of those are in northern B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan, as the increasing number of individuals living here and commuting there, and those who simply head north east for those well paying jobs attest.
There will also be some trades positions coming available in the near future on Vancouver Island, as workers move into retirement. The bulk of the trades jobs, however, are in resource extraction. High schools now offer a Secondary School Apprenticeship, a work-based training program that enables students to attend school and work.
Students with sustained and exceptional work can also apply for a $1,000 cash award, which can be used for post-secondary tuition, or even tools, equipment and materials.
While there is the attraction of being able to say "My son is a doctor", or "my daughter is a lawyer", the fact is there are a number of professional positions out there that don't pay near the six figure sums that trades people can earn in a year these days.
Universities and colleges are in the business of providing educational opportunities for students, designed to give them a better life and, hopefully, a successful future.
Vancouver Island University's transformation to full university status was a great move for the institution and the city, but VIU has wisely held onto its trades programs. VIU offers 24 trades programs, many of which can be utilized in the oil and gas industry, including carpentry, electrician, heavy duty mechanics, equipment operators, road building and welding.
After sinking significant funds in one's education, there is a certain expectation of a return on that investment, namely a job to pay back any student loans, and move forward financially. Perhaps that means building a family, buying vehicles, or buying a home and/or property.
We have examples right here of young people being able to plunk thousands of dollars in savings in their own bank account after just a few months' work in Northern Alberta.
What vocation offers the best opportunity with that in mind? There will always be a need for good accountants, lawyers, engineers and doctors, but it's a competitive and, often crowded market in that regard.
Trades, on the other hand, offer a quicker return on educational investment, and those opportunities won't be disappearing in the foreseeable future.
The poorest option, in all ways, is to not have either a blue-or white-collar education. If someone is considering entering the workforce without an education, the options for earning a decent income are marginal.
Minimum wage jobs aren't nearly enough to get ahead, and never will be. They aren't intended to be that, and those employers that offer those positions do so because that's what fits their budgets.
Education has perhaps never been more critical for Canadians than it is right now. But as one surveys the future and looks down the road at options, trades is the one area where most opportunities await.
Blue is beautiful, as in blue-collar jobs.
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