Competing for talent

Andy Adams

Mar 19, 2024

I was literally shocked at the news shared with me last week by Warren Howes. Warren was Program Manager – Corporate Training and Development at Georgian College for nearly a quarter of a century. Even after all that experience, he was shocked at the story in the website. Schulich Builders announced an historic and bold scholarship program – the largest privately funded scholarship in Georgian College’s history.

Schulich Builders has announced 10 substantial scholarships for the most promising Georgian College students who enroll in skilled trades programs this fall. The story said that five students enrolled in a one-year certificate program and five students enrolled in the two-year diploma program will receive $20,000 for each year of their program. A total of $325,000 has been granted to fund the pilot launch of the Schulich Builders program at Georgian.

The story quoted Kevin Weaver, president and CEO of Georgian College as saying, “This scholarship program will have far-reaching impact on students pursuing a career in the trades as well as our region for years to come.”

While we tend to be focused on our own business and the shortage of young people entering the marine industry, global demographics suggest that industries everywhere are in need of more young people. In terms of career choices, trades like plumbing and heating or electrical have the reputation of being solid, well-paying choices offering year-round employment and many benefits too. How can the marine industry compete when those young people can also access such generous scholarships for other trades?

Obviously, Schulich Builders need well-trained young people and they have put significant resources behind solving the current problem.  But also, note the comment from Kevin Weaver that this will have a far-reaching impact…for years to come. In a world with a significant shortage of young people now, those who choose other trades are likely to be embarking on a 25 to 50-year path in their lives.

If our industry does not find ways to attract more people now, it will only become more difficult in the future. Every industry is competing for a piece of a shrinking employee pie.

Andy Adams – Editor

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