Apprentice Demand in Ontario Top 10 Red Seal Trades

by | Dec 5, 2019 | 1 comment

Annual apprentice certification requirements for new journeypersons in Ontario in the top 10 Red Seal trades are expected to peak at close to 7,000 in 2020, driven primarily by continued growth in construction sector employment.

Despite an anticipated slowing of the pace of growth after 2020, more modest employment growth and rising workforce retirements are expected to drive demand for an estimated 48,650 newly certified journeypersons across the 2019 to 2028 period.

Over the same period, recent increases in new program registrations are projected to contribute to a potential 64,800 newly certified journeypersons. Although on aggregate the numbers suggest a sufficient supply of certified skilled workers, an analysis at the trade level suggests potential misalignment between demand and supply in a number of trades.

Economic and Employment Outlook

In the near term, Ontario’s GDP is projected to average 1.9% as strong non-residential investment and export growth offset softening residential investment and consumer spending. Employment in the province is driven primarily by the service sector, but finance, trade and manufacturing sectors represent a significant contribution to economic activity and employment. Over the forecast period, the largest gains in employment are expected in private services and health sectors.

Welder (1) 2,144 525
Cook (1) 3,426917
Industrial Mechanic
(Millwright) (1)
Heavy-Duty Equipment Technician (1) 1,238 755
Steamfitter/Pipefitter (2) 1,2961,198
Carpenter (3)3,6985,359
Hairstylist (3) 7,27111,212
Construction Electrician (3) 12,24221,192
Automotive Service
Technician (3)
Plumber (3) 3,7377,856
Total 48,65264,788
  • 1-At Risk: Certifications Required Exceed Projected Completions
  • 2-Balanced Conditions: Certifications Required in-line with Projected Completions
  • 3-Ample Supply: Projected Completions Exceed Certifications Required

Labour Market Outlook Summary

Between 2019 and 2028, Ontario is projected to require 48,652 new certified journeypersons to meet anticipated employment growth and demand. New registrations have gradually increased since 2016, a trend which is projected to continue over the forecast period. Completions increased significantly between 2008 and 2014, but have since declined, reaching a low of 5,930 in 2018.

Assuming that recent growth trends continue, new registrations are expected to increase over the forecast period, increasing the expected number of newly certified journeypersons. Over the forecast period, certification requirements will be driven primarily by moderate growth in employment and retirements in principal (apprenticeable trade) occupations. In 2017, annual certification requirements across all trades outpaced overall program completions and heightened labour market challenges in a number of Red Seal trades.

The pace of growth is expected to slow for several trades in 2019, before picking up again in 2020 and contributing to a potential further tightening in market conditions. Following the anticipated peak in 2020, employment growth is projected to recede, while overall completions are likely to continue to rise.

The projected rise in completions assumes that new registrations will continue to follow trends in employment growth and that completion rates will remain stable. Annual certification requirements are projected to rise over the latter half of the decade, along with rising levels of workforce retirements.

Population and Demographic Trends

The GTA is projected to be the fastest growing region in Ontario, due in large part to high levels of immigration. Historically, Ontario’s population growth has been primarily driven by immigration and migration from other provinces.

From 2017 to 2018, in-migration peaked at a level that had not been experienced since the early 2000s. Looking ahead, migration to the province is projected to recede from highs reached in 2017 and 2018, but remain at relatively high levels, an estimated 123,000 per year.

Ontario is the only province to have experienced an increase in new registrations over the past four years. The most notable change has been a significant decline in the share of new registrants under the age of 20, which fell from 33% in 2013 to 25% in 2017. The largest increase was observed in the 25 to 29 age cohort. This suggests new apprentices are not just getting slightly older, but potentially entering the trades as a second career or following other forms of post-secondary education.

New Program Registrations

Nearly half the trades examined in the analysis are projected to see an increase in new registrations compared with the previous decade. Over the forecast period, new registrations for construction electrician are projected to increase, exceeding the number of new registrations for automotive service technician. Steamfitter/pipefitter remains the trade with the fewest new registrations, and with minimal fluctuation expected, despite a significant increase in demand.

Supply and Demand

The majority of trades that have experienced significant increases in new registrations to meet near-term demands are also projected to see a rise in apprentice completions, exceeding annual certification requirements over the medium-term.

Although new apprentice registrations between automotive service technician and construction electrician are relatively equal, construction electrician has a higher rate of completion.

Automotive service technicians have a lower average apprentice completion rate (46%), compared to construction electricians (80%).

This comparatively lower completion rate of apprentice automotive service technicians may reflect a downward trend in employment in the trade. Despite this difference, both trades are expected to attract more apprentices than are required to meet long-term certification demands.

The preceding is excerpted from the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum’s annual report on demographic changes among leading Red Seal trades certifications, including the automotive service technician sector, with a look both at the current picture and prospects for the near future and beyond.


1 Comment

  1. Chad Van Dorp

    Certifications don’t represent the number of people participating in that trade.
    Non compulsory trades like welder and cook end up having many people participating in the trade with no actual certificate of qualification because employers don’t care if they are certified or not.


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