Conestoga news

August 7, 2023 9:00 PM

CISWP research will address inclusive and accessible skilled trades employment

Through a research project funded by Accessibility Standards Canada, the Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance (CISWP) at Conestoga College will conduct research that will inform the development of next-generation model standards for accessible employment in skilled trades.

The project will support CISWP in undertaking a mixed methods research approach that leverages multiple methods and data sources to gain a comprehensive understanding of the barriers to accessible employment, and how they can be prevented and removed. The research will seek perspectives from skilled trades organizations and from people with lived experiences through focus groups and interviews. It will also gain the perspective of skilled trades trainees and apprentices who represent the future workforce.

“Aligned with government mandates, this research project will provide the evidence needed to inform the development of resources for skilled trades businesses and training providers across the country and help to remove barriers for inclusion of people with disabilities in the skilled trades,” said Dr. Amin Yazdani, CISWP executive director.

Skilled tradespeople are in high demand to fill well-paying jobs and build rewarding careers; however, the skilled trades industry expects a significant shortage of skilled workers. It has been reported that Ontario will need more than 100,000 skilled workers in the next decade to meet and keep pace with demands.

According to Dr. Yazdani, recent technological changes have transformed not only the tools available to tradespeople, but the skills needed to operate them. This creates an unprecedented opportunity to diversify the skilled trades workforce and expand it to workers who may not have had access to these careers due to diverse skills and abilities and will consequently help to address the labour shortage in the skilled trades.

Dr. Yazdani also noted that increasing the participation of people with disabilities, including youth with disabilities, in skilled trades employment requires a holistic, evidence-informed approach that includes promotion, new training methods, new tools, assistive technologies, and resources to educate employers on creating welcoming and accessible environments.

CISWP’s research project will focus on skilled trades, with the intent to create evidence that will help to improve accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities in all types of employment.

“The evidence generated through this research will provide a model framework for other transitioning and evolving sectors,” said Dr. Yazdani. “The research will inform how to redefine skill needs based on the future of work, adapt work duties and work processes, and inform how work can be performed differently.”

Dr. Yazdani said the research project is practical, timely and innovative in that it seizes the opportunity to address two significant social and economic challenges facing Canadians -- unemployment and underemployment of people with disabilities and in-demand skilled trades labour shortages.

Conestoga is also uniquely positioned to explore skilled trades research given it is the largest apprenticeship training college in Ontario and one of the largest in Canada, training more than 6,000 skilled trades trainees and apprentices each year.

The Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance works to improve the safety, wellness and performance of the Canadian labour force by generating knowledge, transferring research to practice, and strengthening workforce development -- all in collaboration with stakeholders.

For more information, contact CISWP at