Canadian Steel Trade and Employment Congress (CSTEC)

Canadian Steel Trade and Employment Congress (CSTEC)

January 27, 2012 02:52 ET

The Canadian Skills Shortage: Keeping Tradespeople Employed For The Foreseeable Future

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 27, 2012) - The current challenge of all major industrial manufacturers in Canada is the shortage of skilled workers with the right experience.

Research conducted by the Canadian Steel Trade and Employment Congress, [CSTEC] underscores this challenge in the broader Steel Sector.

With a very high value-add per employee, when compared to the rest of manufacturing, the broader Steel Sector is a good example of the "perfect storm" facing industrial manufacturing on Canadian soil. Over the next five years the steel industry will need to hire between 19,000 and 29,000 workers from all categories just to replace retiring employees. A minimum of 5,000 skilled tradespersons will also need to be replaced. This must occur during a period of significant retraction within the global steel industry.

As the bulk of the baby boomers exit the labour market they walk away with a lot of accumulated knowledge, in some cases as much as forty years.

Failure to capture and transfer this knowledge to the new workforce presents significant risk to all aspects of the numerous manufacturing operations within the broader Steel Sector.

This failure to act would result in direct impacts on safety, the environment, productivity, maintenance and certainly cost.

One emerging bright spot is increasing collaboration within the steel-producing regions located in Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia to continue developing a National Skilled Trades Strategy using a consortia approach.

Early success with the Hamilton Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Consortium including involvement with major industry players, educators and United Steelworkers Canada can serve as a model for this type of broad collaborative effort, with special attention given to each unique steel-producing region in Canada.

Using the consortia approach, which aligns educators, industry and labour, the needs of the broader Steel Sector can be addressed in a timely, relevant way that benefits the steel industry and the skilled Canadians that work for it. The consortia approach also addresses the need to create clear pathways to training in this dynamic, technologically advanced industry.

Young Canadians, immigrants and adults looking for employment security have a path to success in the steel industry and other areas of manufacturing - it will never "all go to China", on the contrary, the reality is the skills shortage facing Canada now ensures experienced, trained workers will be in demand for a long time. However, more can be done to make this path clear, more efficient and nationally-scoped.

What Canadian manufacturing looks like in 5 - 10 years depends on the depth and scope of efforts made by Canadians now.

*Please take the time to review our brand new website (available in French at and HSTAC's new site

**Follow our Twitter account, @SteelSkills, to receive regular information concerning the skills shortage, its impact on the broader Steel Sector, and developments in the forming of regional consortia across Canada.

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