The shortage of skilled trades workers in Ontario has led to a renewed focus on enabling access to skilled trades education through related postsecondary enrolment and apprenticeship training. The construction sector has been especially impacted by the shortage of trained skilled tradespersons and was the focus of this research project.
The key purpose of this research project was the collation and organization of longitudinal datasets to support skilled trades research in Ontario. These datasets were prepared and explored in order to determine whether there are any trends and patterns associated with students enrolled in a skilled trades programs, particularly those related to the construction sector.
The analysis confirmed a widely perceived notion that interest in construction related skilled trades programs is prevalent among the young, domestic, male population. The research study, however, also found evidence that older students in skilled trades programs, particularly those with prior postsecondary experience, were likely to have higher academic performance in the first semester than their younger peer group. The study also found evidence of a need for continued supports for female students in skilled trades programs. The research additionally identified the significant opportunity to promote skilled trades education to international students to help address the skilled trades labour shortage in the Province and contribute to the economy.
The research study explored potential antecedent academic pathways for students enrolling in skilled trades programs, and identified key informational barriers to executing further research in the area. The limited investigation did, however, indicate the potential for pathways among certain programs in the Technology occupational cluster to skilled trades programs. While the study was able to successfully identify the predictors of academic success for students in skilled trades programs, further research with more information on related pathways is required to model the academic performance variance more fully.
This exploratory research represents the first phase of a research project that will inform recommendations to strengthen skilled trades education in Ontario’s construction sector. The next phase of research is recommended to examine the interconnections between postsecondary skilled trades programs and the Ontario apprenticeship training system within the construction sector, including student interest in apprenticeship training programs, pathways into apprenticeships for the graduates of skilled trades postsecondary programs, the relative success of students enrolling in apprenticeship training after a postsecondary experience, and the employment outcomes for graduates of skilled trades postsecondary programs.