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Educators “are thirsty” for better tools to teach skilled trades

December 10, 2014 | By Anthony Capkun

December 10, 2014 – A report released today by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) indicates that, with 91% of educators convinced skilled tradespeople will always be in demand, there is a strong case for connecting students to hands-on activities and accurate employment data.

In a survey of 715 teachers across Canada, 93% say they are encouraging students to consider careers in the skilled trades. Only 13% of parents and 18% of youth agree, highlighting gaps among the three groups when it comes to awareness of career pathways after high school.

The three groups, however, are in agreement when it comes to belief that the skilled trades involve hard physical labour (something that new technologies mitigate in many trades). This belief, says CAF executive director Sarah Watts-Rynard, may be causing a disconnect when it comes to developing the right skills for success in the trades.

“Many trades rely on strong math and science skills. More than ever before, tradespeople are using technology to address the physical nature of their jobs,” said Watts-Rynard. “Parent and educator perceptions about the trades may be misdirecting youth when it comes to the right skills for success in the trades.”


The educator perceptions report is the third of three CAF national surveys since 2013 to measure perceptions about careers in the skilled trades among youth, parents and educators. Understanding educator views is important, says CAF, as they impact student aspirations, educational goals and career choices—either challenging or reinforcing negative stereotypes about the skilled trades.

Of the three groups, educators are the most positive in their perceptions of tradespeople, claiming to understand apprenticeship and the benefits of skilled trades careers. Still, they think there’s room for more field trips and hands-on opportunities, better-equipped trades classrooms and more integration of skilled trades content in high school curricula.

“This tells us educators are thirsty to pass along insights to their students, particularly when it comes to connecting class work to employment opportunities,” Watts-Rynard concludes. “Empowering educators to give timely and relevant advice to their students will make a big difference to how young people feel about a future in the skilled trades.”

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