Trades education battles to overcome outmoded misconceptions

October 9, 2014

An article in Maclean’s examines—and strives to correct—persistent myths surrounding trades education. The article says that many still view the trades as an option for students who are not “book smart.” Sarah Watts-Rynard, Executive Director of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF), says that even as awareness of the trades has improved, this negative stigma remains a stumbling block. “Parents say they have the utmost respect for tradespeople. Teachers say the same thing,” she said. However, CAF data show that 25% of parents of teens aged 13–17 believe the trades are for weak students. The data further indicate that parents have an outdated concept of what the trades involve: half said that they believe working in a trade requires hard physical labour, when in fact, Watts-Rynard says, technology, math, science, and problem-solving skills are more important. Various organizations are working to correct these misconceptions, as well as to communicate the value and benefits of pursuing a trade; many school boards are now offering high school students opportunities to “sample” apprenticeship opportunities in order to learn more. Maclean's