I’ve been a big supporter of the skilled trades throughout my career. Together, with my daughter Sherry and son Michael, we advocate for increased diversity on our crews, hire apprentices, and aim to reduce the stigma associated with skilled trades to establish a stronger workforce for the next generation.
However, there are still persistent myths that need to be exposed.
Myth #1 – The skilled trades is just a job, NOT a career
Definitely not! Technical expertise, hands-on experience, and many hours of training are all required. Skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, and communication, are key and learning how to use 3D technology, digital devices, and diagnostic tools, are included in today’s skilled trade programs. These skills prepare you for a career with opportunities and advancements.
Myth #2 – You don’t have to be very smart
Granted, not everyone learns in the same way, and many people are visual learners who benefit from hands-on instruction, but skilled-based jobs aren’t “all brawn and no brain.” Did you know how essential mathematics is to an electrician, or to building an HVAC system, or using a mechanic’s sophisticated diagnostic tools?
Myth #3 – Skilled trades means construction worker, plumber and electrician
There are many skilled trade careers actively promoted by Skills/Compétences Canada, in sectors including construction, employment, information technology, manufacturing and engineering, services and transportation. Over 400 skilled trades are recognized across Canada including 150 in Ontario.
Myth #4 – These jobs aren’t suited for women
Not true. I’ve worked with many women in the industry as associates and on my crew. We employed two WIST (Women in Skilled Trades) graduates last season, and one of them, Bailey, is now a full-time crew member. There are many excellent job opportunities for women that offer good salaries, benefits, flexibility, and variety. Women need to be made more aware that these opportunities exist and that they have an extensive support network available to assist them.
Myth #5 – You can’t earn a good living
This is not the case. According to Talent.com, entry-level salaries start around $47,755.00 per year, with the highest-paid individuals earning up to $77,774.00 or more per year. General labourers can earn anything from $18.00 to $36.00 per hour, depending on experience, and skilled trade technicians can earn up to $50.00 per hour.
Myth #6 – There are barriers for diverse workers in the industry
Unfortunately, yes. However, we are the only ones who can change this collectively, and the barriers are becoming fewer and fewer. That’s why working with organizations like Skills Canada and its provincial and territorial counterparts is critical since it provides a support team to assist in overcoming these obstacles.
I’ve been an advocate for the skilled trade and technology industries for over two decades, and I’ll continue to be for as long as I’m able to. By working together, let’s continue to be champions for the skilled trades, helping to create a strong workforce for the next generation, breaking down barriers, and ending the stigma associated with skilled trades.