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Census data suggested that fewer young adults may be following their parents into the trades. The census enumerated 416,000 young adults aged 25 to 34 who had received a trade certification. They accounted for only 10% of the total population in this age group.
In contrast, 478,800 adults aged between 55 and 64 had a trades certificate, 13% of the population in this age group which is approaching or entering retirement. The same proportion is found in all other age groups.
Census data also showed that younger Canadians are choosing to study different trades than older generations. For example, 87,200 adults aged between 55 and 64 had a trades certificate in Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians. This compares with only 61,400 young adults aged 25 to 34. As a result, there were 30% fewer young Canadians who attained credentials in this field.
Table 5 Number of persons having a trades certificate in specific fields of study by selected age groups, Canada, 2006
There was also a pronounced difference in Construction Trades. About 72,700 older adults had a certificate in this field, compared with only 54,200 young adults, or 26% fewer young people.
On the other hand, there were some trades in which young adults have studied in greater numbers. For instance, 63,900 young adults had a trade certification in Personal and Culinary Services, which include such occupations as Aestheticians and Chefs. Only 51,400 older adults had a certificate in these trades. In other words, there were 12,500 (24%) more young Canadians who acquired qualifications in this field, compared to older Canadians.
In some fields, declines in trades qualifications among young people have been offset by gains in college diplomas. In other words, some younger adults are obtaining their qualifications at a college rather than at a trades school. For instance, 4,500 fewer adults aged 25 to 34 had obtained a trades certificate in the Engineering Technologies/Technicians field than those aged 55 to 64. However, the young adults who had a college diploma in this field outnumbered their older counterparts by more than 21,000.
Table 6 Number of persons aged 25 to 34 having a postsecondary degree minus the number of persons aged 55 to 64 having a postsecondary degree by specific fields of study and selected levels of educational attainment, Canada, 2006
In other fields, however, fewer young people are obtaining certificates at both the trades and college levels. This was the case with Construction Trades. Graduates in the 55 to 64 years age group outnumbered those aged 25 to 34 at both trades schools and colleges.