By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction News staff writer
Employers in the construction sector need to find new ways to talk to millennials if they are going to solve a looming skilled trades shortage, says a new government report.
“Young people have different attitudes towards life and work than the generations before them,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “The construction sector, along with others, needs to adjust to those changing attitudes to attract and retain talent.”
Among the key findings of new research conducted by the Ministry is that young people prioritize independence and want to feel confident that they have some control over their lives.
Construction health and safety programs offer employers an opportunity to address those values, the report concludes.
“Through health and safety, employers have an opportunity to show young workers they care,” said McNaughton. “If we empower young people to be able to speak up on issues of safety, if we provide them with the right mentorship and we give them all the tools, including new technology, this will go a long way towards meeting their needs.”
About 55 per cent, more than one of every two young workers in the construction field feels safe at their current workplace, new data shows. Roughly the same proportion of young workers believe safety is more important than speed or profit.
“We need to prioritize a culture of safety over a finish-at-any-cost mentality,” said McNaughton. “This will benefit workers and ultimately prove good for business.”
An aging workforce is driving the shortage of skilled workers. Over the next decade, the Canadian construction industry will need about 300,000 skilled construction workers.
“The shortage of skilled workers is a looming problem,” said McNaughton. “The solution is clear. We need to end the stigma around the skilled trades, make the apprenticeship system easier to navigate and find better ways to convince businesses to participate.”
The goal is to end the stigma around skilled trades, improve the apprenticeship system to make it easier to navigate and find ways to convince a larger number of businesses to participate.
The government report stated that 13,000 jobs were unfilled across Ontario’s construction sector in the first half of 2019 and over the next 10 years, the province’s construction industry will need to hire and train about 104,000 new skilled workers.