In order to address the demand for tradespeople in the industry in the coming years it’s important to engage the next generation and people from under-represented groups to join the trades.
A new central online hub called Construction Training and Apprenticeship Ontario, or ctaontario.com, has been launched to provide information about these careers in one place.
“One of the things that we’ve discovered is we are our own worst promoters. There is not a central place you can go online and look at all the various options for the trades,” explained Robert Bronk, CEO of the Ontario Construction Secretariat (OCS). “In our sector we have 25 different trades. High school students or new Canadians or young men and women who are maybe tired of minimum wage jobs and are considering looking at something else, it’s very difficult for them to find the opportunities because they are kind of scattered and everyone is working in their own silo.”
OCS worked with the Provincial Building Trades and Construction Council of Ontario to develop the website.
“We’ve been working with them to populate, get in the details and the technical information,” Bronk said. “We’re trying to make it easier for people to find the different trades in the different parts of Ontario.
“If you don’t know a trade exists how can you possibly investigate it? It might be something that resonates with you.”
The website will feature all the various trades, what the prerequisites are and what you need to get into them.
“A lot of people know what carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians do. . .but they don’t really know what a boilermaker does or what a millwright does or a glazer,” Bronk said. “The goal and the intention is to have one place where you have the starting wages, where are the training centres, what does the training look like, what tools do you work with. That is something we are doing for the industry that is a much-needed tool and resource.”
Although the website is up and running, the intention is to for it to undergo additional enhancements over the coming year.
“We’ve got a good starting point, but we want to have more photos of typical jobsites, video interviews with apprentices and contractors,” said Bronk. “In a year from now it should be really robust and one of the best sites in North America. That’s our intention.”
In addition to lacking a centralized repository to find information on the trades, lack of awareness is another barrier.
“The perception out there is it’s heavy labour, you’re carrying and lifting stuff all the time, you’re going to get dirty, be in 40 (degrees) below or 30 (degrees) above,” Bronk noted.
“They don’t really understand that is there is a whole subject matter expertise in each trade, there is a wide range of opportunities to use your creativity innovation, technology. People don’t really understand the nuances between the trades and that’s something we have to look into.”
There are many benefits to an apprenticeship including earning while you learn. There are also so many different opportunities to pursue.
“I don’t think people understand the potential,” Bronk said. “If you don’t want to work on the tools…after you’ve got enough experience you can become a supervisor, a foreman, an estimator, become a trade contractor and own your own business.”
People tend to view construction from what they see when they drive by, he added.
“They see guys are pouring concrete for sidewalks and roads or pouring foundations for buildings but once the foundation and the structure is up and the walls are closed they don’t see all those trades that are inside that building,” he pointed out.
“Construction is not for everybody but there are a lot of people who have already shut that door before they really understand what they are shutting the door on.”
He encouraged anyone who is interested to check out the website.
“If you are investigating the trades and you’re looking at the different options this is going to help you make a decision on what trades may be good for you,” Bronk said. “It’s hopefully going to give jobseekers a better understanding of what that trade is, as well as teachers, parents, influencers. If they fully understand what these different options are they will be better to communicate that to their students or children.”
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