Tackling the skilled trades shortage in Ontario

The growing adoption for automation, instrumentation and electronics has many employers searching for skilled trades workers to install, service and maintain new and complex equipment.

Increasingly in demand are tech-savvy electrical, mechanical and HVAC technicians, occupations that have evolved considerably in recent years. To help ensure employers have the skilled employees they need to grow, Ottawa’s La Cité is investing heavily in new technology. That includes a multi-million dollar grant to add equipment for its security and alarm systems lab, a state-of-the-art plumbing and hydronic lab as well as new electrical labs where students can learn how to master programmable logic controllers. According to the Colleges Ontario key performance indicators, La Cité’s employer satisfaction rate is 95.6 percent compared to an average of 92.5 percent.

“Nowadays skilled trades and technology are directly intertwined,” says Patrick Mainville, Chair of Skilled Trades at La Cité. He gives the example of an automotive service technician who’s now called upon to diagnose problems with the complex electronic systems that are increasingly common in modern vehicles.

The school’s state of the art equipment gives students hands-on experience. In the security and alarm system lab, apprentices and students use control panels to learn how to wire alarm system networks. Through simulations created by faculty, students learn to troubleshoot problems and find solutions.

“In addition to fixing the network physically, we ask them to explain the reasons why it was faulty,” Mainville says. “We also ask them what they could have done to prevent the situation from happening in the first place. That allows them to develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities and creativity all at the same time.”

In addition to receiving technical training, La Cité students develop four main competencies: entrepreneurship and initiative, creativity, community engagement and bilingual capacity. Students learn English terminology in their respective fields.

“Employers love that many of our graduates are bilingual,” says Mainville. “Our graduates become a valuable asset to many employers when it comes time to interact with suppliers, customers and subcontractors in French.”

To learn more about La Cité’s Skilled Trades programs, visit the La Cité’s website at www.collegelacite.ca.

Why young people should consider skilled trades


With an aging population, there’s a high demand for young people to pursue a career in skilled trades.

“We need a new generation of skilled tradespeople,” says Patrick Mainville, Chair of Skilled Trades at La Cité. “While most people head to university for good career prospects, there is another way to make a good living in Canada without having to rack up school debt. It is time we start exploring skilled trades seriously for our youth.”

Here’s a snapshot of the career opportunities in skilled trades:

  • According to a 2017 survey by Canadian Tooling and Machining Association, 20 per cent of its skilled workers are over the age of 54 and will retire in the next decade;
  • Skills Canada estimates that one million skilled trades workers will be needed across this country by 2020;
  • Skills Canada estimates that 40 per cent of new jobs created in the next decade will be in skilled trades.