Big opportunities to work in trades careers

Big opportunities to work in trades careers

There are big opportunities for careers in the trades, with strong demand, lots of jobs and good wages.

There are so many opportunities that even people who’ve never considered the trades should take a look.

Skilled trades workers build and maintain infrastructures like our homes, schools, hospitals, roads, farms and parks. They keep industries running and perform many services we rely on every day. Their work requires a great amount of skill and skilled tradespeople often use advanced, modern technology.

Strong demand

There is strong demand right now from local employers for people to work in skilled trades jobs. And that demand is expected to remain strong for years to come, especially as people in their 50s and 60s who are currently working in the trades retire.

Strong stability

Stability goes hand in hand with demand. Since the demand is expected to continue for many years, people working in the trades should see good job security and stable careers

Strong wages

Wages for the trades are strong and it’s possible to make above average.

Here are some examples of skilled trades positions in high demand in the Grand Erie region that includes Brantford, Six Nations, New Credit and the counties of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk.

Construction Electrician: Install, troubleshoot and repair electrical wiring and equipment, such as wiring a new home or building. These electricians usually work for contractors or may be self employed. Median annual salary: $65,000.

Industrial Electrician: Install, troubleshoot and maintain electrical equipment in factories. These electricians may work directly for the company or may work for a contractor. Median annual salary: $69,000.

Millwright: Maintain and repair industrial machinery and equipment, such as machines used by manufacturers to make products. Some millwrights work for contractors who are called into factories, while others may work directly for the manufacturer. Median annual salary: $67,000.

Plumber: Install and repair plumbing in a wide variety of settings, including homes, buildings and factories. Some work for contactors or are self employed. Median annual salary: $64,000.

Welder: Weld metals for a wide variety of purposes, such as structural steel used in buildings or joining parts together. Welders work in a variety of settings, from large manufacturers to small welding shops. Welding is sometimes a stepping stone to other skilled trades. Median annual salary: $45,000.

Machinists: Set up and operate machine tools to make products out of metal, plastic or other material. They are employed in manufacturing, such as automotive parts making, plastics products, and more. Median annual salary: $53,000.

Auto service technician: Maintain and repair cars, trucks and buses. Technicians may work for a car dealership or a garage, or may own their own business. Some people specialize in transport trucks or buses. Median annual salary: $51,000.


Despite the positives, many businesses are having trouble attracting people to work in the trades.

One major reason is the negative stigma about the trades. Many young people are not exposed to the trades and never find out about the opportunities.

Other youth are discouraged from pursuing their interests, either by parents or teachers, because the skilled trades are viewed incorrectly as repetitive, dirty, dangerous, low-paying career options. Students in high school may only be encouraged to look at the trades if they struggle with academics or deemed unsuitable for college or university.

Main factors contributing to labour shortages in the skilled trades include:

  • Stigma around the trades
  • Students’ limited exposure to the trades
  • Impact of retirements
  • The soft skills gap (not prepared for work, poor attitudes regarding work)
  • Inadequate training (Mentors not prepared/skilled to train apprentices/incompatibility with apprentice)


People who work in the skilled trades have high job and career satisfaction.

According to research from Job Talks, a Canadian website that promotes the trades:

  • 73 per cent of skilled trades workers feel that they put in an honest days’ work most days, as compared to 66 per cent for the rest of Canadian workers;
  • 68 per cent of skilled trades workers said that their work gives them a sense of success and achievement, as compared to 49 per cent of the rest of Canadian workers;
  • 60 per cent said that they often have fun while they are working versus 43 per cent in other professions;


There are a number of routes people can take to get the training and education needed to get into the trades.

Secondary School: Students in high school may have an opportunity to take a Specialized High School Major in a trade or may go on a co-op placement. Students may also be able to take pre-apprenticeship training while in high school through an Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) program.

Community college: Local colleges such as Conestoga College, Fanshawe College, Mohawk College and Six Nations Polytechnic offer training programs in a wide variety of trades. This includes a number of apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeships: People who are hired by businesses as an apprentice learn both on the job and at school, completing a specific number of in-class hours. This allows people to earn money while they learn and while they advance at a company. Those interested in an apprenticeship can register with to explore the skilled trades and to find an employer.


There are many online resources for anyone who wants more information about working in the trades in Ontario and Canada.

To get an idea of how many jobs there are in any occupation in the trades, search Grand Erie Jobs, our region’s largest job board. The job board can also be used to identify which local businesses hire for the trades.

Watch this short video from the Government of Ontario about working in the trades.

The organizations Skills Ontario and Careers in Trades promote the trades and have lots of information.

Brantford jobless rate jumped in October

Brantford jobless rate jumped in October

October 2021 employment remained steady in Brantford, but the jobless rate still climbed significantly as more people entered the job market. 

October’s unemployment rate rose to 7.2%, more than a percentage point higher than September’s 6.1%, according to estimates released by Statistics Canada, based on a survey of residents conducted earlier in the month.

By comparison, Ontario’s monthly unemployment rate declined to 7% in October, while Canada’s national rate fell to 6.7%.

In Brantford Brant, the numbers may not be as negative as they first appear, according to a news release from the Workforce Planning Board of Grand Erie.

Almost the same number of people were employed in October as the month before. There was also an influx of about 800 people entering or re-entering the labour force, leading to the highest level of participation in months.

But the October 2021 employment numbers suggest that not all those who entered the labour force were able to find suitable jobs.

“There are some positive numbers and our hope is that the jump in unemployment is only a temporary spike,” said Danette Dalton, the organization’s executive director. “People who have just started looking for work may be taking more time to find a job they like, or they may be looking to change careers.”

Dalton said there is a lot of help in the community for people looking to change careers. People can talk to job counsellors at Employment Ontario agencies and they can explore occupations and careers online by using Grand Erie Jobs.

“Besides listing about 1,900 current jobs on its job board, Grand Erie Jobs shows people what occupations are in highest demand locally, local wage rates and which local companies hire regularly,” she said.

Employment grew in more than half of industry sectors, led by job gains in professional services, construction and retail. Those gains were offset by fewer people working in sectors such as manufacturing, public administration and agriculture.

Fewer people in the 15 – 24 age group, which includes many post-secondary students, worked in October. But employment grew for both men and women in the core 25 – 54 age group. Participation in the labour force by this age group increased for the first time since March.

Visit Statistics Canada’s website to read its news release on October 2021 employment in Canada and Ontario.

Tank Traders hiring for St. George Production Facility

Tank Traders hiring for St. George Production Facility

Tank Traders® is the largest provider of the Barbecue Propane Tank Exchange Program in Canada and growing in the USA, employing about 350 people across their facilities and depots and they are hiring for their Ontario production facility in St. George.

Their company culture thrives on idea sharing, improvements and collaboration. They have a commitment to their employees’ success and development with ongoing career conversations and growth opportunities. They have an open door policy across the organization to foster an environment of trust and mutual respect.

History of Tank Traders®:

Founded in 2001, Tank Traders started in rural La Salle, Manitoba, as a division under its parent company, Vomar Industries Inc., that started requalifying propane cylinders since 1995.

From filling and distribution to maintenance and recycling of the propane tanks, they are the only Canadian company to manage every part of the supply chain! They do this by helping their customers exchange their propane cylinder tanks with a pre-filled replacement. This in turn increases the quality of their customer support, helps the environment, as well as extending the life of the propane tanks.

Now 20 years later, Tank Traders has exponentially grown into Canada’s largest provider of the National Barbecue Propane Tank Exchange Program and operates two key businesses out of the USA market under Tank Traders® Midwest and Tank Traders® Missouri.

Their facilities and where they are located:

Tank Traders operates in 14 Canadian production facilities and driver depots, as well as 7 American production facilities and driver depots. Their head office is located in La Salle, Manitoba.

St. George, Ontario

Located in the County of Brant, between Cambridge and Brantford, the production facility takes a hands-on approach to managing part of the company’s supply chain by putting the propane tanks through various cells for refurbishing. This location produces 5,000 tanks per day during their peak season.

To learn more about available jobs at any of Tank Traders operations, visit their website for all of their current employment opportunities their Tank Traders Career Page, check out their Indeed page, or email them at


Celebrating Small Business Week

Celebrating Small Business Week

Making wall art for her own home was a stepping stone for Ashley Breitkopf to start her own business.

The Norfolk County resident started Shaded Pines in 2018 at age 19 and has been slowly growing the business ever since. Shaded Pines makes a variety of laser cut and engraved signs, wall art and home décor pieces which she sells through an online store, attracting customers by being active on social media.

Ashley was making some wall art for her home and decided to list a blanket ladder – used to hang throws or towels – for sale online.

“One ladder turned into 50+ ladders and from there I discovered wood burning, scroll saw art and eventually CNC and laser cutting, which is what I do now,” says Ashley, now 22.

“I never really decided on a business idea, things just sort of snowballed into what I do now.”

Like many small business owners, Ashley likes being her own boss and having control over what she does, noting she can decide on what products she makes or discontinues.

Also like many small business owners, Ashley has learned how to operate a business one step at a time along the way. She has faced many challenges, such as how to handle taxes, manage customer service and run social media pages. Fortunately, she’s able to turn to her parents for advice, as both parents run businesses. Her parents, her brother and her sister all help with business tasks.

Ashley’s advice to people thinking of starting a small business is about persistence. “If the first idea or product that you release isn’t as successful as you hoped, just try again, don’t give up,” she says.

Small Business Week

Small businesses like Shaded Pines are being celebrated during Small Business Week 2021 in Canada, Oct. 17 – 23.

It makes sense to celebrate small businesses, since a staggering 97% of businesses in Canada – 1.2 million in total – meet the official Statistics Canada definition of having 1 to 99 employees. Two-thirds of all employees in the country work for a small business, which has been described as the “backbone” of the economy.

Small businesses are just as important to the economy and workforce of Grand Erie.

There are more than 23,000 small businesses, including those without employees, in Brantford, Six Nations, New Credit and the counties of Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk. The majority of those businesses are in real estate, agriculture and construction, along with retail stores, restaurants and bars.

At the smallest level, as of June 2021 there were 15,700 businesses owned and operated by a single entrepreneur, without employees. The highest number are in real estate, farming and professional services.

There were another 4,100 “micro businesses” which employ 1 to 4 people and 1,500 businesses that employ 5 to 9 people. Many of these are in the trades, truck transportation and professional services such as law, accounting, engineering, marketing and consulting.

And there’s another 1,700 businesses that employ 10 to 99 people, with the highest concentration in food services, drinking places, agriculture, food stores and specialty trades contracting. But that figure would also include smaller manufacturers.


There’s a wide variety of resources and supports for small business in Grand Erie and Canada, including access to grants and loans, advice on starting, growing and marketing a business, doing online sales, and networking where business owners share their success stories and challenges.

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC): Has organized Small Business Week for more than 40 years. It has organized a week of events for Small Business Week 2021, including online panel discussions and guest speakers.

Brantford-Brant Business Resource Centre (BRC): Provides advice, information, free workshops and resources to start and grow a small business.

Enterprise Brant: Promotes community development in Brantford and Brant County by offering small business loans and free business counselling.

Venture Norfolk: Provides support for Norfolk County businesses with free consultation and access to small business loans.

Grand Erie Business Centre: Also supports Haldimand County businesses with free consulting services and access to small business loans.

Business organizations: There are about a dozen organizations in Grand Erie that bring together and represent businesses, including chambers of commerce, boards of trade and business improvement areas (BIAs).


Workforce Series – Interview with Caleb Haines

Workforce Series – Interview with Caleb Haines

In this week’s Workforce Series, where we share stories from local people who work in some of our region’s most important industries, we talk to Caleb Haines who is a licensed Automotive Service Technician for Bluestar Ford in Simcoe. He is also a mentor for Organized Kaos, a unique organization in Brantford that apprentices young people in life and the skilled trades by having youth work alongside established skilled trades persons.

While our new Work-Life Balance Study informed us “43% of local residents said they worked overtime everyday/couple times a week”, much of the automotive service industry works a standard 8am-5pm day, making it a good industry for those who want a clear separation of work and personal life.

In our feature, Caleb talks about how he benefited from an accelerated Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, the importance of dedicating time to training, the role his service manager played as a mentor and about living within your means.

Watch our interview with Caleb here:


Some additional highlights from Caleb:

“I was very fortunate to have been able to take an Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program through Mohawk College in grade 12 of high school. I earned my level 1 while in school which made me able to get my license a year earlier than most. It accelerated my career and gave me the opportunity to buy my first house at a young age.”  

“I was also lucky to have a mentor to help me through my first few years of training and getting my license. He helped me to get off on the right foot in my career and navigate my apprenticeship training setting me up for success.”

On advice to young people – “Looking back, I would have taken all courses in high school seriously, including academic classes. Many skills come to be useful as a technician, or potentially transitioning your career to becoming a business owner.”

“In addition to being a licenced 310s Automotive Service Technician, I have a master technician certification from Ford. I wish I had focused on my specialty training earlier. Training is the key to your success – investing in all of the training you can do is well worth your time. Your pay will also often reflect the amount of training you have.”

“Within my current role and my pay plan (flat rate), I am able to make anywhere from $70, 000 to $100, 000 per year based solely on what I put into it. Automotive is a business that will never slow down, it’s only expanding and career security is massive!”

“To achieve good work-life balance, live within your means to reduce money stress. Give it your all while working, but schedule or plan free time for you – to leave any work stress behind and pursue hobbies.”

Thank you to Caleb for sharing his story with us! Stay tuned for next week, when we present another local story and industry!

Looking to explore a career or find a job? Check out Grand Erie Jobs – the biggest career and job site in our region!

Workforce Series – Interview with Stephen Chary

Workforce Series – Interview with Stephen Chary

It’s Ontario Agriculture Week and in this week’s Workforce Series we talk to Stephen Chary who works for Chary Produce, a second generation vegetable and fruit farm in Oakland, Ontario located in Brant County.

Stephen has worked at his family’s farm from a young age learning about everything to do with running a farm – from planting and cultivating to harvesting the farm’s extensive crop.

In addition to completing a welding ticket in his last few years of high school through a co-op program, Stephen recently participated in the newly developed Agricultural Equipment Operator Program offered by Conestoga College to refine some of his skills. The program focuses on the operation and maintenance of agricultural equipment, which he applies to keeping machinery running smoothly, performing repairs and troubleshooting unforeseen issues.

Stephen’s existing pool of knowledge is formidable, however he feels he still has some things to learn yet, such as the business side of farm operations and crop science as it relates crop infestations and disease – a common but immense challenge that many farms face.  

Our recent Work-Life Balance Study tells us “28% of respondents spend over 9 hours of their average day working”. In our feature Stephen talks about the demands of farm operations as well as the rewards, the importance of time-management skills, the value of having mentors and what his aspirations are for the future.

Watch our interview with Stephen here:


Some parting highlights from talking with Stephen:

On an average day, Stephen is up between 5:30am and 6:00am and heads to the barn to meet his uncle who will provide an overview of the day with him along with providing him instructions. Instructions range depending on the season – ranging from harvest season which is taking place now, to planting season where he will find himself doing things like setting up water trucks in the fields and fertilizing crops. In the winter time – it’s often maintenance and equipment repair, getting ready for when the busy season hits.

“I’ve definitely always had people around me who were mentors”. This has included mechanics and equipment operators and people like his uncle and father who coached him in crop cultivation and business operations.

On the importance of time-management and planning – “With only so many hours in the day, it hasn’t always been easy to figure out what the most important thing is to do first. The trick is to figure out the priorities then and move onto the next thing, and then managing that in a work environment that can have  many unpredictable factors”

On developing skills – “the more skills you have the better”. Stephen feels he can apply his skilled trades skills to future job prospects and says maintaining a focus on machining and science throughout high school are helpful to working in the agricultural field. He also recommends working on a farm for a summer job to learn a lot quickly.

Thank you to Stephen for sharing his story with us! Stay tuned for next week, when we explore Caleb’s automotive industry background, training and experiences!

Looking to explore a career or find a job? Check out Grand Erie Jobs – the biggest career and job site in our region!


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