Skilled trades employment in Canada: 1987-2007

Statistics Canada has released a new report on skilled trades employment in Canada. The full text of the article from the October 2008 edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income is available on-line here. There was a good summary of the report in Statistics Canada’s The Daily today. Here’s a excerpt from that:

More than one million people worked in skilled trades in 2007, where employment growth has been a steady 2.2% a year on average since the recession of the early 1990s. This group includes trades (such as plumbers, masons, mechanics and crane operators) where a licence or certificate may be a condition of employment.

In 1987, Alberta accounted for 9% of all trades employment; by 2007, this proportion had increased to 15%. During the same period, the proportion for British Columbia rose from 11% to 15%. In contrast, Ontario accounted for 36% of trades employment in 2007, down from 41% in 1987, primarily because of slower employment growth. . .

Self-employment is a growing phenomenon among tradespeople. In 1987, 9% of those employed in the trades were self-employed; by 2007, this had increased to 15%. Some trades experienced even higher growth rates, although their self-employment rates had not caught up to the non-trades.

The aging of the population has led to general concerns about the replacement of retiring workers. The ratio of entrants (age 25 to 34) to near-retirees (50 or older) addresses the issue of demographic balance, and shows that the skilled trades had a higher ratio in 2007 than those in other occupations combined (1.0 versus 0.7). This ratio varied among the trades though, with some having a higher ratio of younger workers (plumbers and masons at about 1.5).

Overall, 17% of workers in the trades were immigrants, lower than the 21% in the non-trades occupations combined. None of the trades had a higher proportion of immigrants than the non-trades. In 2007, 10% of plumbers were immigrants, the lowest proportion.