Top 10 Red Seal Trades in Atlantic Canada

by | Nov 14, 2019 | 0 comments

A projected 9,300 journeypersons in the top 10 Red Seal trades are expected to be required in the Atlantic provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island) over the next ten years, between 2019 and 2028.

This compares with 13,000 journeyperson completions that were recorded in the previous decade. Given this outlook of slower growth, meeting predicted outcomes will become more difficult with fewer young people available to enter the workforce over the coming decade.

Keeping up with future certification requirements will be further challenged by the recent 20% decline in new program registrations between 2015 and 2017, and which will result in fewer potential journeypersons completing in the future.

The largest decline in new registrations was experienced in Newfoundland and Labrador, where new registrations fell by 36% between 2015 and 2017, and 48% since the peak reached 2013. This marked decline is expected to contribute to a fall in the average annual number of program completions between 2019 and 2028 to 1,140 per year, and from 1,290 per year over the previous decade.

Assuming recent trends in completion rates, it is likely that employers and apprenticeship stakeholders will need to attract 22,660 new apprentices to the top 10 Red Seal trades to meet the projected demand for 9,300 new journeypersons over the next decade. At the individual trade level, some programs are likely to see ample numbers of new journeypersons, while others are expected to fall short, potentially leading to a decline in workforce certification rates and recruitment challenges. Given current trends, the largest potential skills gaps are projected for carpenters and cooks, and for Red Seal trades in Prince Edward Island.

Economic and Employment Outlook

Economic activity in Atlantic Canada is expected to receive a boost in 2019 from increased oil production from the Hebron Oil Platform in Newfoundland and Labrador, and a broad rise in exports and increased infrastructure investment across the region. Looking ahead, GDP growth is expected to be restricted by limited population growth in most provinces, but a decline in Newfoundland and Labrador. Spurred by high levels of immigration to the province, Prince Edward Island is projected to lead the rest.

Historically, the economies of the Atlantic provinces have been primarily driven by the service sector, which accounted for roughly 80% of real GDP and employment in 2017. In contrast, approximately 7% to 9% of employment is attributable to the construction industry, driven by strong residential and ICI (industrial, commercial, institutional) building sectors. The employment outlook is relatively flat, but modest hiring requirements are expected to be driven by rising retirements.

Population and Age Demographics

Population growth in Atlantic Canada is expected to decline in 2019 and 2020, due to a negative natural rate of population growth with deaths exceeding births and also by the region’s continued out-migration. Immigration will become increasingly important to sustain the population. Prince Edward Island is expected to lead the Atlantic provinces in population growth, driven by high numbers of international migrants.

The decline in new registrations was especially pronounced for the 20 to 24 age group, falling 23% over the four-year period. Despite this decline, this group maintained the highest proportion of new registrations, comprising 43% of all new registrants in 2017.

Trends in Program Registrations and Completions

A downward trend in total completions, coupled with rising retirements and stronger growth, is expected to close the gap between demand and supply of new journeypersons over the next ten years. The potential for recruitment challenges is projected to rise over the latter part of the decade, driven primarily by the need to replace retiring workers, specifically for related occupations.

On average and over this forecast period, new registrations are not projected to exceed historic levels. The largest decline in registrations is projected for construction trades, specifically carpenter (-31%), construction electrician (-28%), and steamfitter/pipefitter (-51%) trades. Despite this decline, construction electrician is anticipated to have the highest number of new registrations across Atlantic provinces.

Although average total registrations are not forecast to exceed historic levels, registrations are projected to increase for several trades compared to the last decade. These trades include automotive service technician (9%), heavy-duty equipment technician (15%), industrial mechanic (millwright) (20%), and welder (1%).

Supply and Demand

The trends in registration and completion rates indicate that there should be a sufficient number of new journeypersons in most trades to sustain Atlantic Canada’s workforce certification rates over the next ten years, but not all of them. Although total demand is not projected to exceed the historic levels experienced over the last decade, requirements are expected to exceed projected completions in the carpenter, cook and heavy-duty equipment technician operator programs.

The preceding is excerpted from a report commissioned for the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum by Prism Economics and Analysis. Reprinted by permission. Visit


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