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We have to ask ourselves why we canít get enough students into the trades. The statistics show that Canada has a shortage of skilled trades that is growing larger every year. On the other hand we have growing unemployment number of our youths with too many of our university students graduating with an average debt load of $27,000 and no job prospects.

Not even the good wages and benefits have turned the tide on this - and they wonít. That is because the issue ultimately has nothing to do with facts and figures and everything to do with emotions and misconceptions.

The reality of the trades shortage begins with the fact that the best and brightest of young people rarely choose the trades these days. When was the last time that you heard of a young person who was accepted into law school, medical school or teacherís college who turned down the offer in favour of becoming an electrician, plumber or millwright? Yet, why shouldnít they? After all talented tradespeople who enjoy their work can have highly successful business and can earn more then a teacher or a lawyer.

Unfortunately, more then often than not society looks on the trades for people who canít make it in the accademic stream: that is not going to change until the perception changes. What we really need is an image make over of the trades sector.

We have to start early with the education of our young people. We can emulate the excellent trades skill programs in Germany where high school students are encouraged to enter the trades.

In secondary school academic teachers are required to have a university education. They have little or no knowledge of the apprenticeship programs and for the most part encourage their students to go onto university in oder to be successful. As a result we have thousands of students graduating with no viable skills for attaining meaningful employment to be able to make a living.

A Liberal Arts degree with a Philosophy major and a Geography minor for the most part shows that you have achieved the standards in education along with some knowledge.

After the graduation ceremonies are over there is a time of reckoning wondering where do you go from here. It is not likely the grads who have spent four years in university preparing essays are going to seek out employment working with their hands.

To change the status quo we have to encourage trades people to become secondary school teachers. Their achievements in the trades along with a high school education and one year at teacherís college is sufficient to become a high school teacher. Check out the University of Western Ontario web site edu.uwo.ca :click on Preservice Education to see the qualifications documentation, experience, training needed to apply.

Trades people can be great role models representing their trades. We have to educate our guidance counsellors to be able inform their students of the reality of attending university, college or an apprenticeship program.

Industry/business and government have a role to play emphasizing the need to have bright hard working male/female students pursue skilled trades. Females can do anything that males can do if given the opportunity. The social media which our young people are connected to can help document where to find the careers of the present/future.

We owe it to our children to provide the necessary knowledge in order that they can live fulfilling lives.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com