Apprenticeship Issues and Challenges Facing Canadian Manufacturing Industries
The apprenticeship system is generally associated with the construction industry. However, the manufacturing industry actually employs a greater amount of persons in apprenticeable occupations than construction. With the rise in value of the Canadian dollar and increased international competition from developing countries, manufacturing industries must increasingly invest in the skills of their workers. Apprenticeship training is often viewed as a possible solution to this challenge. The objective of this report is to discuss issues related to skilled labour shortages and to apprenticeship in manufacturing. The report finds that in recent years the manufacturing sector has suffered from low output and employment growth. In contrast with these findings, the manufacturing sector is reporting increasing shortages of skilled labour. These conflicting indicators suggest that skills shortages in the manufacturing sector are a result of a strong overall labour market rather than dependent on sector specific developments. Growing skills shortages underline the importance for the manufacturing to train and retain employees despite the poor market conditions prevailing in the sector. In this context, apprenticeship programs are highly relevant to the manufacturing sector as 14 per cent of its workforce is in apprenticeable occupations. However, strong growth in the number of apprentices in manufacturing has not been followed by a commensurate increase in the number of completions. Much needs to be done if the apprenticeship system is to significantly foster the international competitiveness of the Canadian manufacturing sector through the development of a highly skilled workforce.
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