By: Maryam Mirza

Algonquin College has reported a 68 per cent rise in trade applicants to the trades programs this year.
Skilled trade programs range from power line technicians to hair stylists.

“There’s about 3,000 apprentices that come through – that could be anywhere from hair stylists, cook, construction trades, transportations,” said Gordon McGregor, apprenticeship support specialist at the Centre for Students with Disabilities at the college.

McGregor says there is a very high percentage of students that graduate from the program who go on to take their licensing exams.

But why a sudden jump in trade applicants now?

“We don’t have the opportunity in manufacturing the way we used to in Ontario – it’s declined quite a bit,” said McGregor.

“Those jobs were highly paid but didn’t need a high education. So now people are faced with this issue that if they want to get a job in which they can survive on, then it has to be formal education.

Once you get formal education, you end up with a trade license and that gets you into a well-paid job.”

However, as there are more students applying and getting through trade school, students are also struggling to pass the licensing exam they need to take once they graduate.

Nearly 50 per cent of graduates that write their exam don’t pass the first time.

In a presentation to level one electrical technician students, McGregor said, “if you keep your grades up in to the 80s and 90s, then you are going to be successful.”

McGregor also spoke about various techniques for learning and explained that many resources were available to students in the form of himself and other apprentice specialists.

The explosion in the program’s size is reflected in statistics that show demand in trades employees.
The waiting list for the program has 189 applicants in line.