Water Cooler: September 2016: Time for Trades

working-1229720by Melany Hallam

September 2016 Water Cooler Question: How many times have you changed careers? 0 / 1-3 / 4-7 / more than 7 Take the survey now. Click here

A lawyer friend of mine once gave me a birthday card showing a crazed-looking guy running around a room flapping his arms in order to activate motion sensor lighting. The caption inside read, “Another journalism major joins the workforce.” Har-di-har har.

Yes, I graduated with a journalism degree and, yes, it was difficult to find any kind of journalism-related work that didn’t involve being a mouth piece for a large corporation. But that was, shall we say, a significant number of years ago.

What’s the job market like now? I looked it up on the Google and found some very helpful information and advice for both job seekers and employers in the 10th Annual Talent Shortage Survey by ManpowerGroup (2015):

  • For the fourth consecutive year, Canadian employers have had the hardest time finding skilled trades people (plumbers, electricians, welders, heavy equipment service, etc); drivers and skilled business executives are also hard to come by, according to the survey
  • 32 per cent of Canadian employers report having difficulties filling some positions
  • The problem exists partially because of a shrinking working population (read “aging”) and, therefore, a shrinking talent pool

As well, according to this Maclean’s Magazine research, there is still a wide-spread belief in the myth that any type of university degree is the best way to a high paying career. But this belief may be severely limiting your options – and your earning potential. In fact, according to futurist Rohit Talwar, from 30 to 80 per cent of all jobs that exist today may disappear over the next 10 to 20 years, replaced by smart software, automation and robots. Kids in school now could have as many as 40 different jobs and 10 career changes in their lifetimes. That trend is starting now.

What does this mean for today’s job seeker? For those just entering the workforce, it may be time to widen your job search or training plans. For those with an established work history, it may be time to think about a career change to work that will always be in demand.

I’m talking about learning a trade.

Trades have had a bad rap for way too long. I can tell you that – after having gone through many years of helping to build our own house – wiring a 3-way light switch (never mind a whole house!), installing plumbing (planning for venting, pipe slope for drainage, etc.) or properly framing a room so that your drywall doesn’t get messed up is not easy. It takes mad spatial skills, math, patience and an incredibly logical brain. It’s hard, it’s sometimes crazy-making but it’s ultimately some of the most rewarding work you’ll ever do. I live in a house that is only here because I made it. How cool is that?

And as a beginning tradesperson, you can potentially get paid very decent wages after a fairly short training period. For example, my nephew is still in the apprenticeship stage of becoming an electrician. But his employer is paying him to complete his certifications AND is paying him more than the going apprentice level pay rate while he’s working. Why? Because Andrew is reliable, he’s a hard worker and he’s smart – all qualities highly-valued by his employer. Andrew takes his career choice seriously, he loves what he does and his employer is generous in showing his appreciation.

How many of us can say the same about our own careers?

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