OTTAWA — New registrations in apprenticeship programs and certifications in the trades fell in 2019 from 2018 across Canada, Statistics Canada has reported, as losses in Alberta offset gains in Ontario and Quebec.
Overall registrations in apprenticeship programs fell 2.9 per cent and certifications in the trades were down 3.9.
The recently released report was said in a statement to provide a baseline for examining COVID’s impact on apprenticeship programs, which are expected to be hit hard in 2020.
Prior to the pandemic, Statistics Canada reported, the number of new registrations in apprenticeship programs in Canada fell 2.9 per cent from 2018 to 77,573 new registrations in 2019.
Over three-quarters of the decline occurred in Alberta, where the number of new registrations in apprenticeships fell by almost one-quarter (down 2,832) to 11,607 in 2019, its lowest level in a decade and more than offsetting the gains of the previous year. New registrations in Alberta decreased in 20 of the 21 major trade groups, led by electricians (minus 450), plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters (down 358) and interior finishing (minus 252).
The construction industry in Quebec (up 5.7 per cent) and Ontario (2.0 per cent) experienced strong employment growth in 2019. This helped new registrations in apprenticeship programs reach a 10-year high in Quebec (23,568) and a five-year high in Ontario (20,991).
In Quebec, strong growth in housing construction and public investment in infrastructure projects in recent years led to more opportunities for apprentices to start programs as carpenters (up 786), interior finishing (363) and heavy equipment and crane operators (300).
Investments in infrastructure projects in Ontario in recent years has coincided with increases in new registrations for electricians (up 321), plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters (240) and refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics (231).
Despite employment and economic growth in recent years, the annual number of newly certified tradespeople across Canada declined 3.9 per cent to 52,367 in 2019, following a 6.6 per cent gain in 2018.
Over half of the overall decline occurred in Alberta, where the number of certifications fell by 1,266 to a decade low of 7,665.
Although women have increased their representation in the labour force over the last several decades, and made up 48 per cent of the labour force in 2019, they continue to be underrepresented in most apprenticeship programs. In 2019, women accounted for 13.5 per cent of new registrations and 12.2 per cent of certificates granted.
When women did enter into new apprenticeship programs in 2019, over half (51.5 per cent) continued to choose trades where women are already well represented such as hairstylists, cooks, bakers and early childhood educators and assistants.
Despite this, women continue to make inroads into non-traditional trades. Most notably, over one-third (35.6 per cent) of women entering into an apprenticeship program in 2019, did so in a male-dominated trade. This rate has more than doubled in the last decade. The major trade groups commonly associated with the construction industry reported the largest gains and were led by interior finishing (up 268), carpenters (up 263) and electricians (up 214). This has helped to increase the representation of women among new entries into male-dominated trades from 3.7 per cent in 2009 to 5.9 per cent in 2019.