“I drive by the houses that I’ve helped wire and think ‘Cool, they have power and lights because of me,’” says Kayla Hayward, who went to school to be an electrician. She says the education was challenging, but the end result of an outdoor job that gives her confidence and independence was well worth all the math and physics.

 

“The most satisfying part of my job is I can step back and look at all the work I’ve done. It makes you feel like you can do anything on your own.”

 

Colleges have a large range of programs that can lead to careers in the trades. These programs provide students with marketable skills, and are typically less expensive than attending university. Graduates are career-ready and are generally offered support in finding field placements or apprenticeships.

 

With an ever-expanding array of programs to choose from, it can seem difficult to narrow down the choices. However, there are resources designed to help. Some schools, such as George Brown College, offer introductory skilled trades courses so students can get a feel for which trade they may want to pursue. George Brown’s Construction Trades Techniques Program consists of three semesters, each with two focuses — welding and plumbing, electrical and millwrighting, and carpentry and refrigeration. The program is designed to allow students to explore the different career options within the trade and find which one is the best fit for them.


Training in a specific trade fosters in-depth technical knowledge and skills. For Kayla, she found a hands-on job that is both challenging and enjoyable. Through her college education she has prepared herself for what she hopes to be a long lasting career.


Jacqueline Hansen is a student ambassador at Seneca College.