Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mike Holmes: The Federal Budget And The Future of Skilled Trades

When I saw the title of this article, I have to admit, I thought it would be boring. I'm happy to admit that I was wrong. Mike Holmes is passionate about getting the next generation of kids involved in the trades. He wants the youth of today to see the trades as a legitimate and lucrative career option. In the next ten years, as tradesmen in Mike's age group retire, Canada and the rest of the world will begin to see a huge shortage of skilled trades workers. In this article which I found at the National Post, Mike Holmes discusses how the federal budget of Canada is attempting to bridge the skilled trades gap by providing financial incentives for people to train as skilled tradesmen. Instead of being critical of the government for what they're not doing, Mike says he purposely looks on the positive side and sees these incentives as a good thing. Mike also discusses how the shortage of a skilled labor force is exasperated by a lack of respect. "Maybe if we didn’t think that only people who aren’t highly educated should work in the trades we wouldn’t have so many problems," he states, adding "If you grew up thinking that a career in the skilled trades is a last resort, bottom of the barrel, how would you feel if that was your career?" Mike talks about how attitudes are starting to change, and how parents need to have a more balanced discussion with their children when it comes to discussing their future career choices. Great article! (Was there ever a doubt?)


From the National Post:

Mike Holmes: Ottawa’s making it right with a budget that works

Mike Holmes | 13/04/01 | Last Updated: 13/03/28 4:24 PM ET
Unemployment rates, job vacancies and a shortage of skilled tradespeople make a career in the skilled trades a powerful option, especially for youth.
Alex Schuldt, The Holmes Group Unemployment rates, job vacancies and a shortage of skilled tradespeople make a career in the skilled trades a powerful option, especially for youth.
Since the federal budget was announced on March 21, I’ve been hearing (and reading) a lot of feedback. Most of it has been positive, which I’m happy about. But some people are complaining about how the new budget doesn’t really change anything — or doesn’t change things enough.
Part of the new federal budget focuses on more training for skilled trades, which includes retraining unemployed workers to meet our country’s growing demand to fill jobs such as electricians, machinists and plumbers.
The 2013 budget includes a new Canada Jobs Grant that will provide up to 130,000 Canadians a year with $15,000 for retraining — $5,000 will come from the federal government, while provinces and employers are expected to match, for a total of $15,000.
Unemployment rates among young Canadians is high, hovering around 14%. That’s why the new budget is also dedicating $19-million over two years to encourage young workers to enter short-staffed fields such as the skilled trades, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Some critics are saying that the federal budget is an old program being sold as new. But even if that’s true, a lot more people now know about these incentives. And many more people now have a goal to get the training they need to change their life — and because of that, maybe change other peoples’ lives too. Old or new, I like where this is going. It’s a step in the right direction because it promotes the skilled trades as something positive.

Why have skilled trades become a national priority? Because in general, there are too many unemployed graduates and too many job vacancies. This is not good for our economy. High unemployment rates plus a shortage of skilled tradespeople equals a huge mess on our hands — and Ottawa knows it. Supply is not meeting demand. We have too much of one thing and not enough of another. The federal budget is trying to close the gap.
According to a survey presented by ManpowerGroup, skilled trades are globally in demand — these jobs need filling everywhere. In Canada alone it’s estimated that there will be 1.5 million skilled job vacancies in 2016 and 2.6 million by 2021.
Not to mention that Canada will be short about one million tradespeople by 2020. Add that to the equation and you can see why some people are worried — including me.
When I encourage children to consider the trades as a legitimate career, sometimes I get backlash — yes, I read the comments. Some parents say that tradespeople are rude and don’t care about the quality of their work or the people it affects. Or that working in skilled trades leads to only dead-end jobs.
But are these comments based on real facts or stereotypes? Because the truth is that a career in the trades today means a better chance at being employed and earning a living that you can raise a family on.

Maybe if we didn’t think that only people who aren’t highly educated should work in the trades we wouldn’t have so many problems. If you grew up thinking that a career in the skilled trades is a last resort, bottom of the barrel, how would you feel if that was your career?
You wouldn’t treat it with much respect, I can tell you that much. Why should you if no one else does?
And that’s exactly what we’ve seen, but it’s starting to change. I’m starting to see the right people — with the right attitude — coming in.
Politics aside, it’s not about pushing our kids to pursue a career we approve of; it’s about having balanced discussions when we speak to our kids about possible careers. It’s about discussing real employment opportunities with real income figures. And not just for now, but for the future — their future.

There’s always a good and bad side to everything. I choose to focus on the good — it’s a big reason why I’ve been so lucky. Can we argue that there’s nothing new about the new federal budget? Sure. But should we?
Like I said before — old or new, it’s still putting focus on skilled trades and getting the word out. I guarantee that it’s helped inspire people to seriously consider working in the skilled trades.
If it means decreasing unemployment rates and filling jobs that need filling then that’s something I stand behind.


  1. Now if we could only get a champion for trades or vocational work as I have heard it called down here in the states.

  2. I don't want to rain on the parade but there is one big question mark in my mind about this topic...

    The federal government will contribute 5 grand to the fund & expects the provinces & employers to each come up with 5 grand to reach the total.

    Sounds good in theory but I can't help but wonder how the provinces will react to this proposal. Ontario is running an 18 billion dollar deficit at the moment & claims (or hopes) to balance the budget a couple of years from now. By that time the total provincial debt will be around 300 billion dollars, half of the total national debt.

    Secondly, how many companies will chip in 5 grand for an apprentice?.

    It will be interesting to see how this play out.


    1. And the US is not dealing with its own deficit problems? Or did you not see all the news about the fiscal cliff back in December, not to mention the sequestration in March? FYI the sequester is a 10 year reduction of the US federal budget. I am not talking about funding. I am talking about somebody to champion the trade/vocation industries in th US.

  3. I want to be reserved when commenting on politics in a country where I don't live. Since I don't live in Canada, I don't feel it's my right to interject. However, I have to say if something like this were implemented in my country I don't know how much I would be in favor of it given the budget crisis. I am not covering this because I agree or disagree, but because it's an article Mike wrote in which he gave some interesting commentary.