Exposing the myths of the skilled trades

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During our recent office move, I was reminded of a series of interviews in 2006, focusing on the future of skilled trade workers, their significance to our communities, and the many options available for a viable and lucrative career. The message is as relevant today as it was nearly two decades ago.


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Aside from a lack of visibility, the trades have long faced a perception problem. Despite stringent health and safety requirements and above-average pay, skilled trades have a reputation for being blue-collar jobs that demand heavy, dirty, physical labour that are best suited to students who lack the skills for white-collar jobs.

I knew I wanted to be a contractor like my father from a young age, and at the age of 19, I was managing my crew. I’ve passed on my passion for construction and building it right, to my children, Sherry and Michael, who are both advocates and mentors to the next generation of skilled tradespeople.

Women make up only five per cent of skilled trades workers, with hairstyling and esthetics accounting for the vast majority. Don’t get me wrong, hairstyling and esthetics are fantastic skilled trade careers, but there are so many more to choose from.


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My team and I work hard to support the skilled trades, which is why we collaborate with organizations such as Skills Canada and their provincial counterparts. It is also why we push for more diversity on our crews, and hire apprentices. Our responsibility is to employ new skilled tradespeople to create a more robust workforce for the next generation and break down and end the stigma against skilled trades.

However, there are still persistent myths that need to be exposed.

Myth No. 1: Working in skilled trades is just a job, NOT a career

Many skilled trades require technical skills, hands-on smarts, and many hours of training. Plus, programs today focus on developing skills for success like 3D technology, digital and diagnostic tools while also concentrating on soft skills, like critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, and communication.


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A career in the skilled trades or technology sector is very stable, particularly right now, with a high number of labour shortages. According to a recent RBC Economics report, the number of registered apprentices needed to stem the deficit is expected to rise to 60,000 by 2025. The pandemic has also impacted the number of registrations, which has dropped by 37 per cent since 2018.

Myth No. 2: You don’t have to be very smart

Granted, not everyone learns 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.” As an electrical lineman you need to problem solve using mathematics. Try building an HVAC system, or using a diesel mechanic’s sophisticated diagnostic tools. Many people would be unable to handle it.


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Myth No. 3: Skilled trades means construction worker, plumber, and electrician

With more than 40 skilled trades supported by organizations like Skills Canada and more than 400 designated skilled trades recognized across Canada (many are Red Seal), the career opportunities are endless. The Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program is a Canada-wide skill standard that ensures a tradesperson has the necessary training and certification to work anywhere in Canada.

Myth No. 4: No room for advancement

There is an abundance of opportunities for advancement in the skilled trades and technology sectors. Experience and knowledge go a long way, plus additional certification and accreditation also help advancement.


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Myth No. 5: These jobs aren’t suited for women

Again, simply not true. I have women on my crew and work with many women in the industry. Last season two women graduates from the WIST program (Women in Skilled Trades) joined our team, and Bailey is now a full-time member of our crew.

There are so many great opportunities for women in the skilled trades and technology sector that offer excellent compensation, benefits, flexibility, variety, and rewarding employment. These are great job opportunities. Women need to know that they are out there for the taking. There is a huge support team ready to help.

Myth No. 6: You can’t earn a good living

Not true. According to, entry-level salaries start around $47,755.00 per year, while more experienced workers can make up to $77,774.00 or more per year. General labourers range from $18 to $36 per hour, depending on experience, and skilled trades technologists can go as high as $50 per hour.

I’ve been an advocate for the skilled trades and technology sector for more than two decades, and I will continue to be for as long as I’m able. Through a strong support team and engaging with educators, industry leaders, organizations, parents, and students together we will continue to be champions for the next generation of skilled trades, break down barriers and end the stigma against skilled trades.

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