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

One response has been government and industry representatives attending employment conferences overseas trying to attract trades to Canada.

However, there is another solution right here, that would introduce thousands of students into 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.

These skills are 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 worth pursuing a flexible and collaborative education system to increase the skilled trades that also accommodates our changing society and economy.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist newspaper.

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