The Construction Association of New Brunswick (CANB) says the province will be facing a significant shortage of trades workers by 2028.
According to the association, 7,400 skilled workers are expected to retire in the next decade and only 4,500 new entrants are projected to be available locally to fill the gap.
CANB-Moncton Northeast has met with teachers and administrators to discuss the industry’s concern about the need to expose more students to vocational instruction, especially in construction areas.
“We see this as necessary in providing students with career options but also as a basis of a foundational life skillset,” said Nadine Fullarton, president of CANB-Moncton Northeast.
“Careers in trades is a first career option and we want to ensure all youth are aware of the opportunities that are out there, especially in the construction industry.”
Employers across the province are already struggling to recruit trades workers and it’s only going to get worse, according to Fullarton. She said that some companies are trying fill the gap by bringing in migrant workers, but that poses some challenges.
“Making sure that their skills match the skills here and looking at making sure that they have the proper safety training and language skills to be able to work our construction sites” said Fullarton.
She said provincial and federal governments need to streamline the process and she says schools across the country need to do a better job at promoting the trades and not focus primarily on technology.
“One sector has been promoted over the other.”
In the last 10 years, the association has donated $150,000 to 32 schools in the region to assists schools in implementing and supporting vocational programs highlighting the construction trades.
Chandler Brooks, a former student of Harrison Trimble High School, now working as a Block 1 Carpentry Apprentice. He said the high school trades program taught him essentials skills and encouraged him to pursue carpentry at NBCC Moncton after he graduated.
“Classes were really hands-on and project-based. You could mess up and learn from your mistakes; which was a completely different approach to the other classes I was taking at the time,” says Brooks. “I got a feel for building as a crew and a team eventually progressing me into my trade.”
To date, the Construction Association of New Brunswick has provided funding to high schools in Moncton, Campbellton, Dalhousie, Bathurst, Caraquet, Shippagan, Tracadie-Sheila, Néguac, Miramichi, Blackville, Sunny Corner, Doaktown, Rogersville, Saint Louis de Kent, Shediac, Dieppe, Hillsborough and Riverview.