construction | The number of unskilled workers is exploding

The number of non-graduates entering the construction industry has skyrocketed in 2021, new data shows The press has received. Figures that surprise the Corporation of Master Electricians of Quebec and worry FTQ construction.

Posted at 5:00 am

Isabelle Dube

Isabelle Dube
The press

According to figures from the Commission de la Construction du Québec (CCQ), the number of new hires without a college degree in the construction industry in 2021 has risen sharply in several trades.

16,929 non-graduates entered the job market, while only 4,783 had a technical college degree (DEP) in their profession. In 2017, on the other hand, the ratio was similar, namely 5728 non-graduates compared to 5430 graduates.

When The press presented the figures of the Corporation of Master Electricians of Quebec, their representatives thought them wrong.

“I was a little surprised to see that we went from 208 in 2020 to 630 in 2021. I think the number is significant,” Michel Bonneau, director of technical services and occupational safety on the phone, told the company.

“When we see an increase in the number of people entering construction without a professional qualification, we worry about the future of the industry because it will create a skills shortage across the industry,” says Éric Boisjoly, General Manager of the FTQ construction.

In 2017, only 126 unskilled electricians entered the construction industry market. In 2021 there were 630.

On the other hand, the number of new electricians receiving their DEP remained stable. Since 2017, the number of graduates who completed the 1800-hour training has only increased by 186, the table shows.


“All trainees, whether they are graduates or not, are always under the supervision of a journeyman electrician,” assures Michel Bonneau. It is his responsibility to ensure that the work carried out is compliant. However, if you hire someone who has not yet started their training, they will be limited in the tasks they can perform. »

Michel Bonneau recalls that the eight new CCQ measures that came into force in April 2021 allow workers to access the field without necessarily having purchased the DEP for electricity.

These are temporary measures proposed and adopted in connection with the labor shortage.

Michel Bonneau, Director of Technical Services and Occupational Safety at the Corporation

The situation is similar for installers. The number of new unqualified pipe fitters increased from 131 to 292 between 2017 and 2021. During this period, the number of graduates remained stable at 492 and 456.

The Corporation of Master Pipe Mechanics of Quebec believes that the situation is not ideal, but that the high number of non-graduates in this field is also explained by one of the eight measures that will be introduced in 2021. now recognizes the appropriate outside acquired experience to the industry, which for example promotes the integration of newcomers, maintains the corporation.

“It’s not just anybody we take on the curb, what we call in our jargon ‘the opening of the cymbals,'” specifies Steve Boulanger, the corporation’s general manager, over the phone. not opened and never opened. That’s not how these people got in.

Prior to the April 2021 entry into force of the eight measures, workers entered the industry in two main ways: either with a DEP and a 150-hour guarantee from an employer, or without a degree with a 150-hour guarantee from an employer. but when opening a labor pool for the desired trade in its region, ie when the CCQ calculates that there is a shortage of labour.

Among the new data from the CCQ, bricklayers without a diploma are also more numerous, while the number of new graduates has decreased.

Almost four times fewer graduates

For carpenters, the number of graduates entering the labor market has been falling year after year, while the number of non-graduates peaked in 2021. It fell from 796 in 2017 to 5,252 in 2021.

For the electrician and pipe fitter professions, it is not the opening of the basins that explains the increase, specifies Marie-Noëlle Deblois, CCQ public affairs adviser. “For the other trades you mentioned, the pools have been opened much more frequently in recent years, which can be explained by an unprecedented need for labour. »

Marie-Noëlle Deblois recalls that economic activity, which is reaching unprecedented levels, and the general labor shortage are putting considerable pressure on the mechanisms for entering the sector. These mechanisms were designed in a completely different context to respond to problems that aren’t the same as before, she explains.

“Access to industry is a major challenge, as is integrating underrepresented groups, retaining workers. »

Education on the rise, the Department of Labor assures

With the Training Recovery Assistance Program (PARAF) launched in November 2020 and the Workforce Operation announced in November 2021, the Department of Labor and Employment is committed to training more people, particularly in the construction sector, communications and media consultant Catherine Poulin supports via email .

She states that in the professions of electrician and carpenter, 1,699 people took part in the ministry’s 1stah April 2021 to March 22, 2022. “We are seeing training increasing in both fields,” writes Catherine Poulin.

In the carpentry trade, the number of participants rose from 621 to 889 (from April 2021 to March 2022). In the electricity program, the number rose from 155 to 328.

Lack of coordination, says the FTQ construction

According to FTQ-Construction, the industry would benefit from addressing the lack of coordination between trade schools and the CCQ, which means non-graduates are sometimes hired by employers before graduates.

“When the pools open just before the cohorts graduate, we have examples of this, graduates find themselves with employers who have given preference to people without a degree because they need labor two weeks before the end of their apprenticeship,” says Éric Boisjoly.

Better graduate retention

According to the CCQ report, better coordination would benefit the entire industry Dropouts in the construction industry in Quebecpublished January 2021. After 5 years, 35% of non-graduates leave the industry compared to 24% of graduates.

Learn more

  • 1522
    In 2021, this was the number of women painters in construction, the field where we find the largest female presence. They are followed by carpenters with 1,168, workers with 1,122 and electricians with 489.

    Source: Quebec City Building Commission

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