A recent report released by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) suggests that parents still prefer their children attend university as their post-secondary option.
The feedback came as no surprise, says CAF’s executive director.
"It was what we expected. It’s to see that parents largely retained their positive attitudes about the trades in general," said Sarah Watts-Rynard.
"But, it shows that there’s still work to do to ensure that parents have the information they need and they have a realistic expectation of what opportunities in the trades look like."
According to the survey, 57 per cent of respondents say a degree is more preferred and less than a quarter said they would prefer a college diploma or a Certificate of Qualification.
Close to a quarter of respondents still consider the skilled trades an option for weak students, which is a three per cent bump from a survey taken in 2004.
"What parents are saying is that they’ve heard the messages about there being job opportunities … but these parents have a tendency themselves to be more likely to have been university educated," Watts-Rynard explained.
A handful of parents are still associating the skilled trades with hard physical labour, but with growing implementation of technology, employers are requiring more math and science skills and ‘placing a premium on the capacity to learn and adapt’.
They survey reported 52 per cent of parents who participated associate trade jobs with physical labour – an 11 per cent jump from a 2004 report.
"I think we’ve got to be out there more talking about the impact of technology and the idea that the trades these days are built for more than physical strength, which is also a part of whether or not parents think the trades are appropriate for their daughters," she said.
"If we really want to increase female participation in the trades, we’ve got to recognize that’s the kind of messaging that they’re getting."
She explained that the bias favouring university exists among parents and that the industry needs to improve the way they educate available opportunities provided by working a skilled trades job.
"What parents are saying is that they’ve heard the messages about there being job opportunities … but these parents have a tendency themselves to be more likely to have been university educated," she added.
"When we look at apprentices, most of them have had a family member, friends, somebody who is connected with the skilled trades and that’s how they got the job."
There is an abundance of literature online, as well as in schools, that explain the benefits of university — but there’s a lack of information educating parents on how their children can obtain work and how young women can also join the industry, said Watts-Rynard.
"Parents are clearly engaged and involved with post-secondary choices for their children and I think what they’re telling us is that we don’t have enough information about where the jobs are and how to connect our kids with the jobs," she said.
"We’re probably not being as successful as we need to be around the impact of technology and how technology is helping complete some of the physical aspects of the work and I think that has follow on effect in the participation of girls."
CAF looks to use the information from the report to improve their efforts educating young people and parents about job opportunities and how to get connected with employers. Watts-Rynard explains that getting into high schools will be key for CAF’s plans moving forward.
"This tells us that we need to make closer linkages between certain trades careers and high school courses that prepare people," she said.