Building a Skilled Inclusive Workforce
The construction industry in Manitoba is aging. The current average age of the workforce is 41 with 15% of the workforce over the age of 65. It is expected that 20% of the workforce will be retiring in the next 9 years.
Not only will there be a considerable number of people leaving the workforce, the required skillset is quickly changing due to evolving construction techniques and technology improvements. Early education is the place to start in building this new skillset, and with only 5% of the workforce being women more needs to be done in early education to encourage construction careers as an option for anybody and everybody.
School Programs Supporting Vocational Options
WCA actively promotes the construction industry as a source of a variety of fulfilling career options.
o Unlocking the Toolkit a Manitoba Women in Construction initiative giving grades 5 and 6 girls the opportunity to learn about potential careers in construction.
o WCA hosts the Manitoba Construction Career Expo every year, an initiative that gives 2,000 high school students from across Manitoba the chance to try a wide variety of trades
WCA supports the High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP) which provides practical, paid, work experience and credit towards a high school diploma. The HSAP provides an opportunity for early entry in the trades and builds interest with youth.
In addition to HSAP, the current high school vocational system provides for a range of program clusters that provide exposure to a variety of trades. The method for developing curriculum for these clusters relies heavily on high school educators and should include more industry involvement in the building of these programs. In addition to industry relevant technical skills, it would also be preferable to increase the emphasis on essential and employability skills within the high school vocational programs, including those that incorporate HSAP options.
Basic Skills Education
WCA has received comments from members expressing concern with the level of basic mathematics and English/French language skills in recent High School graduates. There appears to be less of a focus on some of the basic skills in primary and secondary education that can have a significant impact on the employability of people in the future.
For example, there appears to be no emphasis or follow-up on basic math such as long division, adding, subtracting, multiplication, percentages, decimals or fractions. Frequently students at the post-secondary level could not do basic math by hand which is invaluable in the construction industry.
Additionally, the imperial system is still widely used in construction and is the main measurement used in other countries but very few students understand this system of measurement. Potential employees with the ability to measure inches, feet, and understand the concept of 1/4 of an inch are increasingly difficult to find.
 Due to the frequency of under prepared students, Post-Secondary schools now require a math entrance exam before enrolling into university level courses. An unsatisfactory result on the exam then requires the student to take a basic skills course offered by the University.