Role of Community Colleges in Trade Education
If you decide to train as an electrician, plumber, or other tradesperson, you might assume that a trade school was the best place to learn the skills you need. However, a community college often has advantages over trade schools that can make it a good choice.
Experts estimate that by 2025, about half of the jobs in Canada will be in the skilled trades. Being part of one of those trades could be a good choice for anyone who enjoys working with tools and machines. Trade schools can teach people the technical skills they need and help them to find work, but sometimes other skills are necessary, as well. At community colleges, people can gain skills to help them in the future.
One of the advantages of a community college education is the chance to get an overview of the trade in general, including the history and trends in the profession, local economic development, and changes in educational requirements. This kind of information might not be immediately useful, but it can help people gain a perspective of how their own goals fit with other aspects of society.
This kind of information can be very useful. For example, if statistics show that electrician jobs are being combined with other trades in many workplaces, students will have a better chance of obtaining work if they have both sets of skills rather than just one. If work is opening in unexpected places, their instructors can help them find contacts in those workplaces.
Having a variety of options can be useful in case a change in the economy or even an injury alters a person’s ability to work in a certain trade. A downturn in the economy, for example, could mean fewer jobs in construction and the trades associated with it. An injury could also mean that someone who had been working as an electrician or builder can no longer manage the work. Community college education usually includes some courses in fields such as computers or bookkeeping, which could help with getting into a new line of work.
Another advantage of community colleges is that graduates gain foundations that can help lead to further studies. If someone wants to move from a trade into a degree in engineering, for example, a community college education can introduce students to the skills necessary for academic studies that might not be available in trade schools. Community colleges also tend to be less expensive to attend than trade schools, giving students the option of learning a trade without getting too deeply into debt.
Canada has more than three hundred different trades, including fifty-four with a possible Red Seal designation. This means that someone who has successfully completed a set of tests in that trade can gain a Red Seal certification, which allows the tradesperson to work anywhere in Canada without retraining. Added to the benefits of studying at a community college, this aspect can be very useful.
With the benefits that a community college education can bring, studying at one of these institutions rather than at a trade school can be a very good choice for many people. If you study your options, you might decide that a community college is right for you.
Community College Review. “Community Colleges Are More Important than Ever.” https://www.communitycollegereview.com/blog/community-colleges-are-more-important-than-ever.
Government of Canada. “Follow Your Passion. Find Your Skilled Trade.” https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/campaigns/skilled-trades.html.
Ontario Colleges. “Programs and Careers in the Trades.” https://www.ontariocolleges.ca/en/apply/skilled-trades.
Vocational Schools and Colleges. “Skilled Trades Schools in Canada.” https://www.vocationalschools.ca/trades/.