The Importance of Gen Z in Skilled Trades

Attracting Gen Z: the Next Generation of Skilled Workers

As the newest generation enters the workforce, Gen Z presents an opportunity to address the ongoing labour gap within the skilled trades. To position your company as an attractive and forward-thinking employer, it is valuable to recognize the potential of Gen Z in the skilled trades. Manufacturers need to consider the defining characteristics that influence their career choices and learn how to effectively attract and retain Gen Z as employees.

The Importance of Gen Z in Skilled Trades

Gen Z includes people born between 1997 and 2012, currently falling within the age range between 11 and 26 years old [1]. According to the Canadian census, in 2021, the workforce already comprised nearly 20 percent of Gen Z [2]. A report by BuildForce Canada indicates that this percentage is expected to rise as Gen Z ages into the workforce and baby boomers retire [3]. "Getting Canada's youth excited about skilled trades will be critical to ensuring a robust and healthy economy, " says Terry Bowman, manufacturing, and supply chain Leader at 3M Canada [4].

Understanding Gen Z Characteristics

Understanding Gen Z and what motivates them will help employers seeking to attract and retain this emerging workforce. Gen Zers exhibit several distinct characteristics that influence their career choices:

  • Tech-Savvy: They have a strong affinity for modern technology and expect it to be an integral part of their work environment.
  • Purpose-driven: They want their work to mean something, and most often, this means working for an organization that has strong values that are aligned with making the world better [5].
  • Flexibility: Gen Z values work arrangements that provide flexibility, such as remote work options and adaptable schedules.
  • Preference for Face-to-face Interactions: Despite their digital fluency, Gen Z values in-person interactions, emphasizing the importance of personal connections in the workplace.
  • Adaptability: They are open to change and embrace new ideas, technologies, and work practices.
  • Competitiveness: A competitive nature drives them to excel and strive for success in their careers, nurturing their entrepreneurial spirit [6].

In addition to these characteristics, Gen Z places a high premium on job security, a factor they prioritize when choosing an employer. They are inclined towards stable, traditional job roles that allow them to acquire new skills and establish a strong foundation for their future careers [7]. By aligning with these preferences, employers can position themselves as attractive choices for Gen Z professionals.

Becoming a Preferred Employer to New Generations

To become an appealing employer for Gen Z, with consideration of the characteristics that influence their career choices, consider implementing the following strategies:

Flexible Work Policies: Nearly 44% of Canadian Generation Z employees prefer the freedom to choose where they work [8]. Adapting to this preference can attract talent.

Stay up to date with Technology: Incorporate the latest technologies and digital tools into your work environment. Gen Z values modern technology, and providing them with access to cutting-edge tools and platforms will not only enhance productivity but also attract tech-savvy talent. Raised in a technologically advanced world, Gen Z would be a great resource to help onboard new technology automating operations.

Offer Opportunities for Growth and Innovation: Create an environment that fosters innovation and encourages career growth. Gen Z is entrepreneurial and seeks opportunities to make a meaningful impact. Encouraging creativity and offering chances to advance within the organization can make your company more attractive to them.

Continue to Educate About Skilled Trades: Educate young workers, their parents and teachers about the value of skilled trade careers and the significant financial incentives and stability they offer. As identified in our blog Debunking the University vs Apprenticeship Stigma (hyperlink), the perception of apprenticeships and skilled trades from older generations is archaic - it’s important to educate and alter the perception of skilled trades to the upcoming workforce to help fill labour gaps.

Partnerships with Schools: Collaborate with schools to provide Gen Z students with hands-on experiences in skilled trade careers, giving Gen Z a clear path into skilled trades. Programs like EMC’s WILWorks Skilled Trades in Advanced Manufacturing pre-apprenticeship program gives youth a head start into skilled trades for advanced manufacturing, allowing them to build a strong foundation toward a rewarding career.

Skilled trades have historically been known for job security and are essential services that will always be in demand [9]. By understanding and addressing the preferences and aspirations of Gen Z workers, you can position your organization as an attractive employer, securing a promising future in an evolving job market.


[1] Statistics Canada (n.d.). Census in Brief A generational portrait of Canada’s aging population from the 2021 Census.

[2] Statistics Canada (n.d.). A generational portrait of Canada’s aging population from the 2021 Census.

[3] Energy Now (n.d.). The Labour Crunch: Why is There a Skilled Trades Shortage in Canada?

[4] Canadian HR Reporter (n.d.). 3 in 4 Canadians say they’d never pursue career in skilled trades.

[5] (n.d.). Everything You Need to Know About Gen Z in the Workplace.

[6] Indeed Canada (n.d.). All About Generation Z.




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