earning trades report

Report reveals skilled trades earning differences

Monday, March 22, 2021

A new report finds that women in the skilled trades, on average, earn about half what men do, because they’re concentrated in lower-earning trades.

Across all Red Seal trades, in the first year following certification, women earn on average 47 per cent of what men earn, and 46 per cent eight years out.

Individuals in Red Seal trades earn, on average, $64,000 in their first year, compared to $55,500 for non-Red Seal trades. Those certified in ‘mechanical trades’ earn the most in their first year ($76,500) followed closely by ‘electrical trades’ ($74,200).

Women represent less than 10 per cent of all Red Seal trade certificate holders, and within each category of certificate holders, women account for less than 2.5 per cent.

The report  from the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) and the Education Policy Research Initiative (EPRI) analyzes earnings from Statistics Canada’s Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform (ELMLP) with a focus on those with certification in the Red Seal trades, which have common national standards and account for 75 per cent of all those who gain certification.

“These strong earnings patterns demonstrate how skilled trades can be an attractive career path for many,” said Steven Tobin, executive director at LMIC. “Our report acknowledges the sizeable differences in pay between men and women which, among other factors, may contribute to why few women participate in the trades.”

The report also found that gender earnings differences hold even within the same broad trade category. When looking at broad trade categories, the largest earnings difference between men and women is in the ‘other’ category, where women earn 54% of what men earn. The lowest earnings gap is in the ‘mechanical trades’ category, where women earn 89% of what men earn.

This new research comes at a time when jobs in skilled trades have rebounded above pre-pandemic levels and labour shortages among the skilled trades have already re-emerged as an issue.

“By providing new information on the early career earnings of those who obtain certification in the skilled trades, our research can help individuals make critical training, education and career decisions, especially when these findings are placed alongside our previous study on the earnings of post-secondary education graduates” said Ross Finnie, professor at the University of Ottawa and Director of EPRI and lead author of the report.

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