There is a shortage of skilled trades workers in the Yukon, and the government continues to invest in training.
“There has been a significant activity in the construction sector over the last few years, not just in the Yukon, but across Canada and this has resulted in a lot of employment opportunities in the trades,” said Clea Ainsworth of the Education Department.
“But still it takes time for apprentices to work their way towards becoming a journey-level tradesperson, anywhere from two to four years depending on the trade, so as a result we are experiencing a skilled trade shortage,” Ainsworth added.
“Because Yukon’s labour force is relatively small compared to other jurisdictions, the loss of a few skilled workers here results in really noticeable shortages, and we are competing with other provinces and territories for skilled labour from the existing pool of trades people.”
The shortage is compounded by the fact that the territory loses some of its labourers to the southern employers.
“The vast majority of Yukon apprentices are staying in the Yukon, but the significant opportunities in the south are also drawing some of our apprentices,” said Ainsworth.
“Because Yukon uses the same curriculum as Alberta, there is a very seamless transfer of their training to most other provinces and territories.”
To combat this, the Yukon government is investing in training and promotion for skilled trades here.
“In addition to promoting the skilled trades as a smart career option, the government of Yukon works with Yukon employers as they develop skilled trades, training opportunities in the workplace,” said Education Minister Patrick Rouble.
“The Department of Education has developed a very good working relationship with Yukon trades employers and labourers over the 40 years that the apprenticeship program has existed in the Yukon,” said Ainsworth.
“Employers and their employees come to the department of Education because we provide the service of registering apprentices and setting up in-school technical training for apprentices.
“The apprentices work in the workplace and that provides them with a certain amount of training but then they also go and attend classroom education to get their theoretical instruction in order to obtain their journey-level status.
“Support for this in-school training is paid for through a department of Education agreement with the government.”
In 2006-2007, more than $756,000 will be spent for trades apprentice coursework through the Yukon Skills Development contribution agreement with Ottawa.
In addition, the Yukon has allocated more than $417,000 through the Community Training Funds for trades and construction-related programs above and beyond the courses delivered by Yukon College.
“These past few years, we have seen a lot of growth in the number of apprentices registering with the Department of Education,” said Brent Slobodin, assistant deputy minister of Education.
“We are seeing an increase in the need for formal skilled trades training; we are also finding that our Community Training Funds fill an important informal training niche as well.”
“We work with people of the Yukon to register and train apprentices,” said Ainsworth.
“We often provide pre-employment or level one training courses in the trades in Yukon communities as employment opportunities arise.
“For example, the new school in Carmacks, there were some pre-employment and level-one carpentry courses run so that local people could get the training they needed to get hired on for local building projects.”