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Trading up: Why the future of education in Canada must be skilled

When it comes to awareness, many occupations considered to be ‘skilled trades’ are not well understood by Canadians. More troubling than a lack of awareness are some of the unfounded, yet persistent, attitudes held about working in the trades. Research on the jobs of the future estimates that 40 per cent of all new jobs in the next decade could require some kind of skills-based training. However, less than a third of 13 to 24-year-olds in Canada are considering this kind of post-secondary education. This report uses a new approach to recruitment, one that focuses more on the personal and emotional benefits of the work. It aims to give career seekers a sense of the personal qualities of different kinds of tradespeople, their feelings of fulfillment, their contributions to society, and their overall happiness on and off the job. The report contains the results and recommendations of a national survey of skilled tradespeople undertaken to gain a deeper perspective on workers in this crucial part of the Canadian workforce. An online survey asked questions in order to understand the motivating factors in a tradesperson’s career trajectory. A key finding of the survey is that ‘tradespeople are among the happiest workers in the country’.