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Earnings and mobility indicators for newly certified journeypersons in Canada, 2020

Released: 2023-03-13

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 had a negative impact on the economy as a whole, and on newly certified journeypersons in particular. This was seen in the take-up rates of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit among skilled tradespeople (38.4%) and the general working population (35.2%). Among the restrictions that provinces and territories implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19 was the closure of many worksites. Without the capacity to perform their jobs virtually, newly certified journeypersons were more affected than others in the labour force.

Journeypersons who newly certified in 2020 earned a median employment income of $50,080 that year, which marked a 5.2% drop compared with what those who certified in 2019 earned. This also represented one of the lowest median employment incomes of newly certified journeypersons since the series started in 2008.

Median employment income of newly certified journeypersons declines across Canada

In 2020, due to unprecedented challenges from the pandemic, the median employment income of newly certified journeypersons fell across Canada, compared with that of journeypersons who certified the previous year. The median employment income of journeypersons largely depends on the state of the local labour market and the economy in general.

The median employment income of newly certified journeypersons continued to be highest in the territories (-13.5% to $66,540) and Alberta (-7.0% to $57,230). While both jurisdictions experienced significant drops, it was Newfoundland and Labrador (-16.3%) that recorded the largest decline from 2019.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Percent change in median employment income of newly certified journeypersons, 2019 compared with 2020, by jurisdiction
Percent change in median employment income of newly certified journeypersons, 2019 compared with 2020, by jurisdiction

Median employment income of newly certified journeypersons falls in most trades

Only 3 of the 31 trades saw growth in the median earnings of newly certified journeypersons from 2019 to 2020, namely agricultural equipment technicians (+9.8%), industrial instrumentation and control technicians (+4.4%) and powerline technicians (+1.1%). The remaining trades experienced decreases from 0.4% to 31.2%. Trades that rely heavily on interactions with the public, such as hairstylists (-31.2%), cooks (-21.5%) and estheticians (-21.3%), decreased the most. Considering these three trades have some of the highest concentrations of female journeypersons and were most at risk of job disruption because of COVID-19 restrictions, their decreases contributed to a larger decline in female journeypersons' income (-$3,780; -13.1%) than in male journeypersons' income (-$3,190; -5.7%).

Across many trades, the median employment income of male and female journeypersons decreased by similar amounts, with a few exceptions. In the automotive service technician and welder trades, compared with 2019, the median employment income of newly certified female automotive service technicians (-$7,320; -18.1%) and welders (-$11,330; -19.8%) decreased more than that of male automotive service technicians (-$3,130; -6.8%) and welders (-$6,840; -11.9%). In contrast, although the median income of newly certified cooks (-21.5%) posted a large decrease compared with the previous cohort, the median income of male cooks (-$8,910; -24.4%) decreased more than that of female cooks (-$5,190; -16.8%).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Median employment income of journeypersons and other postsecondary graduates, two years after program completion
Median employment income of journeypersons and other postsecondary graduates, two years after program completion

Mobility rates of journeypersons decline for a third year

Previous research has noted that interprovincial mobility can affect a journeyperson's income. Economic gains are among the main reasons for migration, and those who are mobile and migrate to other provinces tend to have higher incomes compared with those who do not.

In 2020, one year after certification, 5.2% of journeypersons either lived or worked in a province or territory other than their place of certification. This marked the lowest national mobility rate of journeypersons since the data series started in 2008, and a continued downward trend for a third year.

In 2020, against the backdrop of COVID-19 restrictions, weak oil prices, and declines in construction activity and support activities for oil and gas extraction (-41.3%), Alberta's gross domestic product dropped 8.2%, the largest decline among the provinces and territories. Amidst these economic uncertainties, Alberta had difficulties retaining and attracting migrant journeypersons. In 2020, under one-fifth (18.2%) of mobile journeypersons (i.e., those who lived or worked in a province or territory other than their place of certification) who certified in 2019 moved to Alberta. This marked a 3.7 percentage point decline from the previous year and the sixth consecutive year of in-migration declines. In 2014, Alberta's resource boom made it an attractive destination, and in-migration of newly certified journeypersons to Alberta peaked, with nearly one-half (48.9%) of mobile journeypersons moving there. In 2020, just over one-third (33.7%) of mobile journeypersons had left the province.

British Columbia slowly replaced Alberta as the most common destination for newly certified migrant journeypersons. In 2020, one year after certification, British Columbia received just under one-quarter (24.4%, +1.5% from 2019) of newly certified in-migrants, most of whom migrated from Alberta, followed by Ontario (22.6%), which also surpassed Alberta.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had larger impacts on journeypersons' median earnings than on those of other postsecondary graduates

The working environments and conditions differ greatly between journeypersons and other postsecondary graduates. As a result, the restrictions implemented in response to the pandemic led to different impacts and outcomes for each group.

Despite the closures of nonessential businesses, many employers were able to transition to a work from home or hybrid model. As a result, many postsecondary graduates were able to continue working throughout the pandemic. Comparatively, because of the hands-on nature of their work, most trade professionals had limited capacity to perform their jobs virtually. As such, many journeypersons either were unable to work or had to work reduced hours to abide by COVID-19 guidelines.

The disproportionate impact on journeypersons was evident when comparing the take-up rates of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), 38.4% of journeypersons received CERB compared with 31.4% of those with an undergraduate degree. The variance increased further with higher levels of education, as graduates with a professional, master's or doctoral degree had CERB take-up rates ranging from 13.3% to 19.0%.

Combined with declines in workable hours and business shutdowns, journeypersons who certified in 2018 had a median employment income of $57,450 in 2020. This marked an 8.2% (-$5,160) decline from the previous year and the lowest median employment earnings since the beginning of the series. At the same time, other postsecondary graduates of 2018, such as recipients of undergraduate degrees (+1.8%), professional degrees (+1.4%), master's degrees (+0.3%) and doctoral degrees (+0.6%), all experienced gradual growth in median employment earnings during the same period, even with the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

Although the median employment income of journeypersons (-8.2%) fell in 2020, when the median total income of journeypersons was evaluated, including non-employment income from government transfers like CERB, the income of journeypersons had a relatively slight decline compared with the previous year (-2.9%).

  Note to readers

Context

This release includes data from the Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform, from 2008 to 2020. For more information on the concepts and the methodology used in this study, consult "Earnings indicators for certified journeypersons in Canada, 2020," and "Indicators on the interprovincial and territorial mobility of certified journeypersons, 2020." Both articles are part of the publication Technical Reference Guides for the Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform (Catalogue number37200001).

Data, definitions and concepts

Earnings indicators were derived at the aggregate level for all trades, and at the disaggregate level for select trades, including 25 Red Seal trades with the largest number of certifications from 2008 to 2020 and 5 non-Red Seal trades. Four of the five non-Red Seal trades (child and youth worker, developmental services worker, early childhood educator and educational assistant) are only considered designated trades in Ontario.

Mobility indicators were derived at the aggregate level for all trades, and at the trade level for 15 Red Seal trades with the largest number of certifications from 2008 to 2020.

Certification: The requirements for granting a certificate vary by jurisdiction in Canada. In most cases, apprentices are issued a certificate when they fulfill such requirements as supervised on-the-job training, technical training and passing one or more examinations. Trade qualifiers, meanwhile, become certified once they pass an examination.

Designated trades: Trades for which apprenticeship training and trade qualifications are available in Canada. These trades are governed by provincial and territorial jurisdictions, which determine the trades for which apprenticeship training is offered and certificates are granted. The jurisdictions also determine which designated trades require certification in order to work unsupervised in the trade.

Journeypersons: Journeypersons are individuals who have completed an apprenticeship program or trade qualifiers who have earned a certificate of qualification.

Registered apprentices: Individuals in a supervised work training program in a designated trade within their provincial or territorial jurisdiction. The apprentice must be registered with the appropriate governing body (usually a ministry of education or labour, or a trade-specific industry governing body).

Trade qualifiers: Individuals who meet the on-the-job experience required to qualify for certification in a jurisdiction, without necessarily having completed an apprenticeship program.

Red Seal program: This program sets common standards to assess the skills of tradespeople across Canada. Journeypersons who meet the Red Seal standards, through examination, receive a Red Seal endorsement on their provincial/territorial trade certificates. There are 54 trades at the national level for which common Red Seal standards are currently available.

Employment income: Includes employment earnings (wages and salaries, commissions from employment, training allowances, tips and gratuities, tax-exempted Indian employment income) and net self-employment income (net income from business, profession, farming, fishing and commissions). It is adjusted for inflation and presented in 2018 constant dollars.

Interprovincial mobility: Interprovincial mobility is calculated by comparing the jurisdiction of certification in a trade (in the Registered Apprenticeship Information System) with the province or territory of residence (recorded in the T1 Family File) and the province or territory of employment (obtained from T4 slips) one or three years after certification.

Newly certified journeypersons who live and work in the same province or territory of certification show no interprovincial mobility.

Newly certified journeypersons who live in a different province or territory from the one where they certified are referred to as the "migrant population of journeypersons."

Newly certified journeypersons who work in a different province or territory from their province or territory of residence and certification are referred to as the "shadow population of journeypersons."

Products

The product "Canadian Apprenticeship Longitudinal Indicators" is now available in Statistics Canada – Data Visualization Products (Catalogue number71-607-X).

The research paper "Labour market outcomes of Indigenous journeypersons in Canada," part of the Education, learning and training: Research paper series (Catalogue number81-595-M), is now available.

The infographic "Earnings and mobility of journeypersons in Canada, 2020," is now available as part of the series Statistics Canada — Infographics (Catalogue number11-627-M).

New versions of the following technical reference guides are now available: "Earnings indicators for certified journeypersons in Canada, 2020," and "Indicators on the interprovincial and territorial mobility of certified journeypersons, 2020." Both guides are part of the Technical Reference Guides for the Education and Labour Market Longitudinal Platform (Catalogue number37200001).

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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