Home Education Why Are High School Students Discouraged from Trade Industry Education?

Why Are High School Students Discouraged from Trade Industry Education?

Addressing misrepresentation and stigma surrounding the trade industry

by Soukita Morgan
A person welding and using a machine to complete their task.
The trades can include welders, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, heavy equipment operators, and painters (Photo courtesy @Jannonivergall/Pixabay).

Listen to the whole story here:

Statistics Canada reports numerous trade industry job vacancies, yet, young trade workers feel their high schools failed to present trade careers as viable options.

“I recently graduated from school, and no one ever suggested joining a union or pursuing a trade,” said Jamie Woodward, “It was always emphasized that university was the best option.” Woodward, a 21-year-old carpentry student at Algonquin who was told by his high school teachers that getting into a trade would be a waste of his intelligence.

Woodward’s experience is unfortunate when compared to data from Statistics Canada that reported in 2022 “employers in the construction sector were actively seeking to fill 81,500 vacant positions in the first quarter, up 7.1%,” in the trade industry. According to the Government of Canada career-planning website, “over 256,000 new apprentices are needed over the next 5 years to meet demand in Canada.” Several young trade workers agreed with Woodward’s statement, reporting that their high schools failed to present trade careers as viable options.

According to a 2023 Statistics Canada study, pursuing a trade yields a higher median income than other paths. For instance, in 2018, undergraduate degree graduates had a median income of $50,900 two years after graduation, compared to $39,700 for college diploma graduates. Meanwhile, certified apprentices in the trades earned a median income of $59,000 two years after certification.

“Most of our students would like to go to either college or university to study a diploma or a bachelor’s degree,” said Tracy Dang, a guidance counsellor at Willowdale High School in Toronto.

At Willowdale, the trade industry is promoted through pamphlets and emails that trade schools provide to them to pass on to their students, though the encouragement of pursuing a trade as an option is not a priority according to Dang.

“I believe that educating young people about the benefits of [trade] unions in high school would greatly improve our situation,” Woodward stated.

But it’s not just high school advisors who are steering students away from the trades, according to Kaleb Harris, parents also have influence on their children not pursuing the trade industry as an option. 

“I know many parents push their children to pursue a university degree,” said Harris, a 21-year-old apprentice with UA Local 46. “But those in the trades can find jobs anywhere.”

Like Woodward, Harris’s high school did not recommend the pursuit of a career in the trades, rather it was his personal experiences that led him to seek this line of work.

“My dad has always been in sales for machinery and tools used in trades,” Harris explained, “seeing someone welding and trying it [myself] made me realize it was right for me.”

My name is Soukita Morgan, I am a fourth-year journalism student from Toronto Metropolitan University. As I pursue my Journalism degree, I have found an interest in fashion and philosophy. Along with this, I have written a couple of pieces for Stylecircle and Youthquaker. I have been trained in copy-editing, copywriting, and fact-checking. My journey here at TMU has helped me develop various amount of skills and helped me delve into my love for writing. In this final semester, I am completing a Masthead course where I will be extensively prepared for reporting and live broadcasting.

This article may have been created with the use of AI software such as Google Docs, Grammarly, and/or Otter.ai for transcription.

You may also like