The reality of replacing retiring tradespeople is likely, as it seems to me at present, settling down to two groups; those trades such as auto mechanics which lend themselves to two or three full time stints at tech school, and apprenticeships.
A couple of guys I've talked to recently are mid-thirties and have gone through an obstacle course to get into an apprenticeship and stay employed. Compare that to parents of young people who are more than happy to pay for two or three years of college (or tech school) after which an employer can have a young person with a substantial jump start on the trade.
Construction trades are very much different. Work is much less consistent and must be primarily learned on the job. Labour standards are much less consistently enforced, making it much more of a battle to collect a regular paycheck and have any paid benefits; pensions are rare. At many levels, I think that bringing in skilled workers from other countries while we have so many young people wanting to apprentice is a very poor solution. However, without changes to apprenticeship practice, that's what will happen.
I've also given some thought to the union's argument that changing the ratios would cause a glut of apprentices and jeopardize the jobs of journeymen. That is in fact what happened during the early 80's recession; I went from being a foreman of three journeymen and three apprentices to being a foreman of three apprentices. Did a lot of baby-sitting those days. As an older tradesman, even though I more than pull my weight, maybe I should be thankful.
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