Professionals in the trades have been talking about the looming labour shortage for years, with dire predictions about too few people working in the field to fulfill the need.
Well, it seems as if that time has come. According to a recent report issued by the Royal Bank of Canada, Canada’s nationally-recognized Red Seal trades will face a shortage of at least 10,000 workers through 2026. When the 144 provincially regulated trades are included, that number grows to at least 100,000.
Why Is There Such A Significant Labour Shortage?
Much of this shrinkage in the skilled trades workforce has to do with the volume of tradespeople retiring, often before the traditional retirement age. However, shutdowns and work restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have also led to people leaving the skilled trades workforce early as part of what has become known as the Great Resignation.
The ramifications of a labour shortage are felt in towns and cities right across North America. In the local Greater Toronto Area, we continue to see many large infrastructure projects moving forward, along with an expansion in new commercial and residential construction. Not only do the trades need to replace the thousands of retiring workers, but they also need to recruit thousands of new workers to fulfill growth needs.
This situation needs to be addressed today with future-proof solutions to ensure that the number of skilled trades grows with demand. Without creative, effective recruitment strategies, we risk labourers working overtime to keep projects delivered on time. Working too many hours can lead to exhaustion and burnout, which can result in a slip in work quality and adherence to safety protocols.
How Can We Fill The Labour Gap?
Skilled trades can recruit new workers by reaching out directly to the younger people in high schools, colleges, and job fairs. Some of the more essential points to touch on are:
· Low-cost Training, High Wages: The training involved costs a fraction of what university degrees cost. Since wages in trades are generally high, you’ll be able to pay off student debt years before many people with a university degree.
· Champion Inclusive, Diverse Workplaces: Many young people have an outdated “cowboy culture” image of skilled trades and are interested in working for diverse, inclusive organizations. Many trades companies nurture workplaces that show respect and inclusiveness for all, including advancement opportunities for women and people of colour.
· Ongoing Problem-Solving: Skilled tradespeople rarely get bored. In most sectors, there are new challenges to solve every day, often requiring creative thinking and a grasp of new technology. Because people need your technical and problem-solving skills on an ongoing basis, tradespeople will have steady work.
The Outlook In Commercial HVAC
Although a labour shortage has also affected the commercial HVAC sector, career prospects have never looked more promising. Over the past two years, a spotlight has been shined on the importance of breathing clean, healthy air in commercial buildings to neutralize contaminants and stop the airborne spread of infection. Smart technology and green innovations are integral parts of our future as we focus on sustainable solutions that protect the environment.
This means that work opportunities in HVAC continue to be plentiful and are expected to be so for the near future.
How To Become A Commercial HVAC Technician
Like with any skilled trade position, becoming a commercial HVAC technician requires a lot of training and experience to conduct quality work and enjoy the fruits of a long, rewarding career.
First, find a quality HVAC training program where you can earn a Gas Technician Level 2 or 3 license. After training, you will need to successfully pass an exam required by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA). You can then apply to become an Ontario College of Trades member and complete a 5-year HVAC apprenticeship. You will also need to take a certification exam and apply to become certified and registered as an HVAC journeyman.
Working in HVAC pays well, but can also be demanding, intensive work. In many cases, you will be helping people when they need you the most, and they are always eager to express gratitude. Our entire team loves helping our clients solve their HVAC/Refrigeration issues, and we would not change careers for anything.
We are also proud to help mentor the next crop of talented HVAC technicians and show the benefits of a career in skilled trades. If you are considering this path and have any questions, give us a call or go to https://orac.ca/apprentice/ for more information. We are always happy to share our knowledge about our work and how you can join in.
Gregg Little, Paul DeThomasis, and Hugo Lopes are co-owners of Springbank Mechanical Systems. You can reach them at 905-569-8990 or via email at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.