Wanted: Respect for skilled trades
As job crisis looms, it's time North Americans lost their snobbish ways, labour summit warned
Mar 05, 2008 04:30 AM
We're the most educated country on earth when it comes to college and university, says the latest census – yet we face a crisis of jobs we can't fill.
A summit of 350 business leaders and educators warned yesterday that unless Canada starts training more people in skilled trades – from welding to drywalling – Ontario could face one-third of a million unfilled jobs by 2025 as baby boomers retire.
The latest census data shows that Canada stands first in the developed world in the proportion of people who hold credentials from either college or university – 48 per cent, compared with 39 per cent in the U.S. or 32 per cent in Australia.
We can add Japan and Germany to that list as well.
Armed with that knowledge it now becomes clearer as to why immigrants with advanced degrees are driving cabs and delivering pizza. Canada didn't need them and now, because of our poor immigration policy, the Canadian labour market is being flooded with university and college educated workers. And not only has the immigrant made a bad career move by immigrating to Canada but the lives of many Canadians were either put on hold or diminished because of this glut of advance degrees. This is how Canada's immigration system is ruining lives.
In any event we are still being sold the line that Canada will suffer a labour shortage as baby boomers retire. Therefore, Canada needs more immigrants if any job growth is to be realized. Well, what kinds of jobs are they talking about?
For starters, the construction trades is one such area but what is our immigration system doing to address this? India and China top the list of source countries of immigrants to Canada yet you rarely see an Asian working in any skilled trade. So why do India and China still retain favour nation status when they are not producing the immigrants this country needs?
We must keep in mind the cyclical nature of construction work. Housing starts are down across the country. And when the boomers retire they will be on a fixed income. Can we expect them to engage in home reno projects on such a limited cash flow in their advanced age? It may very well be that we will not need as many skilled tradespeople in the future and we may in fact be creating another labour glut.
School enrollment is down in Ontario and there is talk of closing schools in the province. A moratorium on hiring new teachers has been called as there are too many teacher's college graduates looking for full time teaching positions, putting the careers of many Canadians on hold or at jeopardy. How does immigration help this?
So what skills shortage are they talking about? Beats me, but here is a list of the top jobs in Canada as reported by StatsCan for the year 2006.
1. Retail Salesperson. 2. Truck Driver. 3. Retail trade managers. 4. Janitors, Superintendent. 5. Farmers, Farm Managers. 6. Material Handlers.
1. Retail Salesperson. 2. Cashier. 3. Registered Nurse. 4. General Office Clerks. 5. Secretaries. 6. Teachers (elementary).
Notice how Retail Salesperson tops the list for both men and women and it is this and related jobs that businesses are in need of workers. Not engineers or IT specialists. It seems to me there is no real skills shortage. It's a lie, a con to convince Canadians to accept an immigration system they otherwise oppose. If there is a skills shortage of any kind it is a need for real cheap labour and this is where the immigrant comes in.
The labour market is unpredictable which is why Canada's immigration system should accept and reject immigrant applications based on current labour market needs, not projected ones. This is why I support the changes the Conservative government made to the immigration act. It will give the immigration minister the power to accept or reject applications on a whim. This is needed. There is no point in allowing the continued inflow of IT specialists when there will be little chance for that individual to find work in that field.