Skilled trades shortages are growing as baby boomers retire and demand for new housing increases.

Labour market studies predict 83,000 job openings in the skilled trades by 2032.

In response, government and industry representatives attend trade shows overseas trying to attract trades to Canada.

A construction company CEO recently spent time in the US, Philippines, Singapore, Ireland, Israel and Vietnam searching for skilled trades.

However, there is another solution right here, that would introduce thousands of young Canadians to the construction industry.

We have vast numbers of students pursuing university degrees majoring in the humanities and sciences.

In addition to mandatory courses for their majors, these students choose electives. Many would enjoy practical electives in framing, welding and other skills.

These electives would offer a well-rounded education and provide employable skills during the summer and immediately after graduation.

The skills are also transferable – construction offers good-paying jobs in every community across Canada.

Some students might even choose to pursue construction as a career, after their initial introduction to skills training.

We have trades schools and universities in our region with the expertise to teach the necessary skills, and young people willing and able to learn.

There are many examples of established and successful collaborative programs including the Engineering Bridge program and the School of Nursing.

It’s time for a more flexible and collaborative education system to promote the skilled trades and accommodate our changing society and economy.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist.

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