Would you be interested in a well-paying career filled with variety and opportunity? How about a career that utilizes the latest technology and is so transferable that you can work anywhere in the world? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be your own boss. A career in the construction trades might just be for you.

Doors are wide open for rewarding careers

The problem is, only 1 in every 69 high school students in this country is entering the trades, and to solve our shortage of skilled workers we need 1 in 5 to be making this career choice. “The positive message about the construction trades is not one young people are hearing. They think it’s something they can do only if they are not smart,” says Ronan Deane, the Business Development Manager at Graham Construction. “Ask a construction CEO where they started, and they’re likely to tell you they began as a tradesperson.”

Consider for a moment how valuable tradespeople are. The school your children go to, the hospital you rely on when you get sick, and the arena you go to be entertained — these were all built by a huge team of construction tradespeople. For millennials wanting meaningful work, this is an oft-overlooked opportunity.

“A trades career isn’t a second best choice,” says Fiona Famulak, President of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA). “We need to dispel a lot of the misconceptions, because these jobs pay well, and there are a lot of different opportunities in the sector.”

To inspire young people to consider a career in the trades, the association recently implemented a school outreach program to show students what a job in construction is truelytruly like. Famulak is heartened by the results of the program, which over the past year has reached 1,300 students.

Safety starts early

“We need to engage young people early,” says Mike McKenna, the Executive Director of the BC Construction Safety Alliance. “Construction trades are viable and honourable careers.” The Safety Alliance offers safety programs, training, and resources to help improve the safety of over 180,000 workers in BC. And in its commitment to involve young people, it offers an online construction safety training system module free of charge to high school students. “Construction inherently has its risks, and we want to engender a sense of safety,” says McKenna, “so that when young people come on a job site, safety is just second nature.”