Young skilled trades workers enjoy rewarding careers

Young skilled trades workers enjoy rewarding careers

By Richard Lyall

Just imagine you enter a guidance counsellor’s office in any Ontario high school and it has three display walls – one each for universities, colleges and the skilled trades.

On the wall for the skilled trades, there are students watching a monitor showing fantastic, short video profiles of young women and men telling their stories about their construction careers on the Job Talks Construction website: Bulldozer operator, project manager, trim carpenter, tower crane operator, bricklayer, concrete finisher… and dozens more.

Well, the guidance office monitors aren’t ready yet but the website with the profiles are ready to be shared with young people eager to get a leg up on joining the world of work.

Get the message out

Here’s the key: We need to get the message out that there are thousands of well-paid, rewarding jobs that will be available for young Ontarians in the coming decade.

In fact, construction research group BuildForce Canada reports in its 2020 labour market forecast that more than 100,000 new workers will need to be recruited in Ontario by 2029 because of retirements and new demands – that’s for residential, infrastructure and other construction sectors.

While future opportunities are certain for the industry, the video series is not about filling the trades gap. It’s about job satisfaction, says Job Talks Canada Executive Director Jon Callegher.

“Our profiles feature young people who embrace construction for its highly satisfying careers and enjoy the challenges of problem-solving on the spot. I think our coalition has done an excellent job of conveying a new image of working in construction: A future of possibilities that are bright, exciting, secure and fulfilling.”

Among the happiest of those workers profiled is Larissa North, a bulldozer operator. (Find her profile here.) “The fact that I get to be outdoors every day is really nice, but what I really like is that every day is different,” North says. “Some of the skills that make me a good bulldozer operator are that I’m detail oriented and I’m always asking questions about operating the machine and how roads are put together.”

Aside from my association, RESCON, a coalition of construction groups that helped produce the series includes: The Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO); the Heavy Construction Association of Toronto; the Toronto Area Road Builders Association; the Ontario Sewer and Watermain Construction Association; the Ontario Skilled Trades Alliance; the Ontario Residential Council of Construction Associations; and the Ontario Construction Careers Alliance.

“This was truly a collaborative industry effort,” says Andy Manahan, executive director of RCCAO. “It’s important that youth become informed about the exciting prospects in Ontario’s construction sector and that the trades become a top consideration in their career choices.”

Get the word out about these exciting jobs – please feel free to share the Job Talks video series with high school students, parents, educators, and other friends and colleagues.

Richard Lyall is president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON).