As more in-person events return following the pandemic, job fairs are increasingly among them, especially showcases that feature opportunities for careers in construction. On that note, on April 18, 2023, Winnipeg Construction Association, Manitoba Heavy Construction Association, Manitoba Home Builders Association, and Manitoba Construction Sector Council (MCSC) will host a Construction Industry Job Fair at the Victoria Inn.
Having attended most of the job fairs in Winnipeg this year and years past, MCSC’s outreach team observes the industries that have had the most success at job fairs are strongly supported by key stakeholders – mainly tradespeople who volunteer their time to share their experiences from working in the construction industry.
“Collaboration with all stakeholders is essential and our partners have done a great job helping us get the word out,” says Carol Paul, MCSC’s Executive Director. “We all require skilled labour; a focus on a collaborative versus a competitive approach will be a win-win for everyone in the sector.” For example, a workforce development committee supported by competing companies will help address the pain points every company shares.
When experienced tradespeople share what it takes to get into construction, and what it takes to succeed over the long-term, that knowledge can make all the difference for a student or other recruit seriously considering careers in construction. James Murphy, MCSC’s Community & Youth Liaison, and frontman on the frontlines at job fairs all over the province, says tradespeople who join him at tradeshows (and in schools) not only give back to their professions, but they get direct, real-time input from the people who are the future of their industry.
How do you get started? What type of work do you do? What’s the work environment like? What’s the toughest part of your day? Those questions are some of the more common queries Murphy hears at job fairs from students. “Having established tradespeople talk about their education and share the struggles they had to overcome has an influence on indecisive career-seekers,” says Murphy. “I’ve talked to the students about how much money that they can make in the construction industry, but they don’t really understand what’s involved until they hear it from someone who has lived the experience.”
When tradespeople come with their work gear and required personal protective equipment (PPE), that’s an effective icebreaker and conversation starter, according to Murphy. Even without PPE, Murphy works closely with tradespeople in advance of job fairs to make them feel comfortable interacting with the public, ensuring a mutually beneficial experience.
By Murphy’s account from post-event student surveys and conversations at job fairs, he says about 80% of kids do not know what their plan is after high school. When presented with real, live, face-to-face interaction with tradespeople willing to share their on-the-job experiences, Murphy says it creates trust and allows MCSC to continue the conversation with students after the job fair through additional training events and promotional incentives.
Understandably, while the demands at the job site comes first, Paul always advocates for construction stakeholders to make their skilled staff available when time permits. “We see it time and time again, when students get to meet skilled tradespeople and learn from them, they begin to mirror themselves in that experience, and in careers in construction, which is to the benefit of the entire construction industry,” says Paul.
If you’re a skilled tradesperson or a company that employs them, and would like to volunteer with MCSC’s James Murphy at an upcoming job fair, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org