Thinkopolis: The First Edition | Skilled Trades & Labour

Statistics Canada has just announced that the national unemployment rate rose slightly to 7.2 per cent for the month of July.

Employment declines were concentrated among youths aged 15 to 24, as a result of less hiring this July compared with previous July’s.
The biggest changes were seen in business, building and other support services in July. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment grew by 6.2% one of the highest growth rates among all industries.

Canada continues to have a relatively high unemployment rate despite the fact that many employers report difficulty finding the skilled people they need to hire. While these workers may exist, they may not be located in regions where their skills are in demand. This may contribute to Canada’s persistently high unemployment rate.

A national average unemployment rate of 7.2 per cent conceals the fact that there are regions experiencing acute labour shortages and other areas with much higher than average unemployment. There are also particular fields that are facing a severe lack of workers.

Job Trend – Skilled Trades & Labour

The demand for professionals in the skilled trades in particular has been growing steadily over the past year. By combining the Labour Force Survey with online job
posting data and Workopolis’ own research, we are able to see where in particular these workers are in demand, which skills are the most sought after, and how Canadians feel about relocating to where the jobs are.

This shortage of workers is leading to increased wages and more job availability for a wide variety of trades. So with the value of a four-year arts degree in question, more Canadians should take a serious look at the skilled trades. Canadian business leaders agree there is a general shortage of skilled workers, and it
stands to get worse as the baby boomer generation retires. Governments are taking action to close Canada’s skills gap by encouraging people to consider the trades as a career path.

The possibility of new, steady, high paying jobs can be a solution for the cohort of young workers entering the job market. These millennials are experiencing nearly double the national average unemployment rate, and are entering a market full of more experienced candidates looking to transition out of industries in decline. These workers must be willing to relocate from regions experiencing high unemployment to more robust job markets. Consequently job seekers need to know which trades are in demand in which regions. Workopolis, Canada’s leading careers and employment website, has the latest information on what help is wanted, and where.

With Canada’s job market on the upswing, and the construction industry rebounding, Canadians can look forward to job openings in the trades. Information from Statistics Canada indicates a healthy increase in construction jobs since the summer of 2012.

Canadians and Mobility

Aspiring construction workers, vehicle repair and maintenance people, electricians and heavy machinery operators can all look forward to plenty of opportunity. Plumbers and pipefitters, welders and iron workers, carpenters and landscapers are also in high demand. A quick survey of Workopolis postings can give new graduates an idea of the experience employers are looking for. Job hunters may also find they need to relocate in order to maximize the value of their skills.
Canada has a vast landscape of employers. From the oilrigs off the coast of Newfoundland, to the climbing condo towers of Toronto, skilled tradespeople are in high

Since the days of the dauntless voyageurs, Canadians have been going where the work is. However, not all of today’s workers show the same enthusiasm for relocating. A recent Workopolis survey shows that only 40 per cent of Canadians are interested in relocating for new opportunities, while 46 per cent indicated they would rather stay put.

Skilled Trades & Labour Postings: A Cross-Country Look

Analysis of job search behaviour on Workopolis shows that Canadians from Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and the Territories are the most likely to
look for jobs outside their own province. People from Alberta, British Columbia, and Manitoba are the least likely.

When looking at the total number of jobs available in each province, the highest percentages of trades jobs exist in the prairies and in Newfoundland. These economies are largely resource based. Oil and potash reserves means there is consistent demand for skilled tradespeople, and an ongoing economic boom to fuel construction of new infrastructure and housing.

Overall, Ontario has an ample supply of opportunities for tradespeople, but the percentage of trades jobs is lower than other provinces, as the economy is more

Top 10 Growing Job Categories

It’s not just the skilled trades that have seen an increase in demand. Workopolis has taken a closer look at online job postings for the past year to determine which fields are experiencing the most growth in hiring.

Positions showing healthy hiring climates run the gamut from health and arts and culture to management and hospitality workers.

The Top Ten:

  • Hospitality
  • Trades
  • Arts and culture
  • Health
  • Sales and service
  • Management
  • Manufacturing
  • Government
  • Engineering
  • Finance


A closer examination of which jobs are most in demand and where the opportunities are located can potentially help Canadians make strategic employment choices in order to advance their career.

August 2013 Canadian Employment Predictions

We are expecting to see growth in the Canadian employment market in August 2013. This is the result of positive Canadian economic growth (the Ivey Purchasing Managers Index strong at 55.3 in July) and also the previous employment report being positive on a year over year basis. The Canadian/US exchange rate has weakened over the last 6 months and is the only model component not voting for growth. We are also seeing strength in the US as reflected by the ISM Purchasing Managers Index and the recent returns in the US stock market. Since our economies are closely linked, this is also positive for Canadian economic growth and the Canadian labour market.

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