Photo of a house under construction.

Careers and the housing crisis

Politicians shouldn’t get all the blame

There’s a housing crisis here on PEI. No shock there, there’s a housing crisis pretty much everywhere in Canada. Lots of people are looking for places to live, but the costs are exorbitant, demand is much higher than supply and plenty of communities are seeing homelessness rise.

While everybody is busy pointing at every government administration in sight, I think there’s one angle almost no one has considered: the career angle.


Back in my day…

When I was in Grade 7, we spent one morning a week at a neighbouring school, taking shop and home-ec classes. (We were supposed to call them “technology studies” and “family studies,” but nobody did.) I gotta tell ya, I loved shop class. While it was cool to learn how to cook a few things and work a sewing machine (two things that have been enormously helpful to me in my adult life), shop was pure fun. I learned how to make things out of wood, metal and plastic. I used hand tools, power tools and machine tools.

I was too chicken to continue once I was in high school, because the classes were full of these intimidating dudes who didn’t seem super welcoming to 14-year-old girls. I know I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Remember when you thought shop class kids were burnouts and borderline criminals? Even if you didn’t, there’s a good chance you viewed students in those classes as lacking in skills for high academic achievement. And that creates some problems that we’re seeing now.

Simply put, we didn’t value shop classes in our schools. Many jurisdictions (looking at you, Ontario!), pulled classes from the mandatory curriculum and de-funded tech programs and facilities. On top of that, we’ve spent decades pushing students to pursue university studies immediately following high school. Then they graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and they lack a solid set of technical skills that lead to gainful employment.

Meanwhile, trades jobs go unfilled and employers are crying for people.

TL:DR, you’re going to have a shortage of houses of you have a shortage of people to build the houses and the infrastructure they need.


Education always wins

You are never going to hear me say that a university degree isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Any education you pursue has value if it changes you as a person, as a scholar or as a professional. But too many students are racing off to university because they believe it prepares them for their career. That is, in fact, the number one reason students go to university.

Education and career training are not the same thing. Fortunately, what they do have in common is that you can do either at any point in your career.

So if meaningful and well-paid work are your top priorities, start with a trade. You can always, always pursue other education later.

If academics are your passion, then pursue an academic credential. You can always, always pursue other education later.

Including an apprenticeship.

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