Why You Should Consider a Career in the Skilled Trades

Jul 19, 2017 5:30 PM ET
Blog

Precision means everything in Alexandre Sidorchuk’s line of work.

After all, once he finishes his apprenticeship as an aircraft maintenance technician, he’ll be the one who has the final say in whether a plane gets off the ground.

"If you’re not doing something [to] 100 per cent, you’re doing it wrong,” Sidorchuk said. “Those are the standards I’m held to at work.”

No pressure, right?

Aircraft maintenance technicians are responsible for “anything and everything” to do with an aircraft, explained Sidorchuk.

“If there’s a problem with the structure, you have to be able to interpret the repair and fix it. If there’s a problem with the plumbing, you have to be able to go in and fix that, too,” he added.

“You can’t pull a plane over to fix it in the air."

And despite being just 22, the Calgary, Alta. native, is well-versed in his chosen trade.

Sidorchuk is a member of Skills Canada’s national team and will represent his country at the WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi this year.

“I’m at the point where, on paper, I’m the best aircraft maintenance apprentice in Canada,” he said.

A growing need for skilled workers

Young tradespeople like Sidorchuk are in increasingly high demand in Canada, according to Skills Canada CEO Shaun Thorson.

“There’s a large percentage of skilled tradespeople that are getting closer to retirement, and we will need people to replace them,” Thorson said.

But these trades – aircraft maintenance to hairstyling to steamfitting and pipefitting – require a significant amount of technical and essential skills training. And it’s often a challenge to market these opportunities to young people, Thorson explained.

“Students are not presented all the options on what the educational pathway is, and when we’re talking about skilled trades and apprenticeship, there aren’t as many opportunities for them to understand what the educational options are,” he added.

Through Skills Canada’s regional and national competitions, students get a chance to see what’s involved in those occupations.

“For students that participate in the Skills Canada programs and competitions, the activities are always very hands-on and are very focused toward skills development and skills students will need in the workplace,” Thorson said.

A viable career option

Sidorchuk went into aircraft maintenance because he wanted to pursue a post-secondary education that allowed him to work with his hands and get out of a lecture hall.

“Getting into something where I could physically touch what I was learning about – that was an environment where I excelled,” Sidorchuk said.

Similar interests in a technical education pushed TransCanada’s Bryce Lord to become both a Registered Engineering Technologist and electrician. Twenty-eight years later, Lord is the vice-president of Canadian gas operations for the company.

“It’s a totally viable career option, whether you chose a route like I did [and move into leadership], or you want to just stay in the trades, I think that they’re long term, good-paying, great careers.”

And while his day-to-day work might now involve a lot more paperwork and a lot less time in the field than it did when he first started out, he said his experience in the trades was invaluable as he moved up through TransCanada.

“When you’re in a strong company like TransCanada, that’s just the start,” he said. “If you show the right aptitude and right attitude, there are nothing but great career opportunities.”

Support for the trades

“One of the keys to success in our programs is that we’ve been able to bring technical expertise from industry and education and bring those groups together to talk about how we develop programs that are focused at the appropriate education level while also identifying skillsets that industry requires,” Thorson said.

TransCanada is proud to partner with Skills Canada to continue fostering the next generation of skilled tradespeople like Sidorchuk. 

“The partnership [with TransCanada] is important to make sure we’re always understanding where industries are moving,” he added.

We've also previously partnered with Women Building Futures to promote its Women in Construction Awareness Campaign in Alberta, and offer trades scholarships through our TransCanada Scholarships program.

On July 14, we announced a new partnership with the Canadian Welding Association Foundation to support the future of welding in the country. This year, the CWA Foundation partnered with TransCanada to deliver nine Mind over Metal welding camps to students aged 12-15 across Western Canada. Learn more about how we’re joining energies with the CWA Foundation here.