Climb to new heights with a career as an ironworker

When it comes to working in high places, ironworkers is a career to aspire to. The job that these skilled tradespeople do is at the core of every major construction project.
Whether it’s big box buildings like Winnipeg’s new IKEA store or the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport’s terminal building, the MTS Centre, Investors Group Field or the current addition to the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg, ironworkers are the tradespeople captured in iconic pictures perched on the end of a steel girder helping to make someone else’s dream project a reality.
For someone thinking of entering the trades, becoming an ironworker can lead not only to working on some of the most interesting building projects in our province but also to a career that provides some of the highest wages in the trades sector. While a majority of the building projects can be found in our city centres like Winnipeg, there is also plenty of work to be found in other business or industrial settings such as mines, hydro dams, steel mills, gas pumping stations, windmill farms and converter stations.
Apart from erecting the steel framing associated with bridges or the tall buildings we see around us, ironworkers also do all the rigging that is needed to move everything into its right place. They also do the welding and the connecting that keeps everything where it belongs, and construct all the rebar hidden under the floors and in the walls that hold the enormous weights bearing down from above.
There is demand for these skilled tradespeople locally, and here in Manitoba, regulations require all ironworker apprentices to complete a three-year term of trade-learning. This includes both a board-approved program of technical training (in-school), combined with practical training (on-the-job) supervised by a journeyperson or designated trainer. The province’s ironworker trade regulations also establish a rising scale of legally-binding minimum wages owed to registered apprentices as they progress through the levels of their program.
Registered apprentice ironworkers are expected to invest a total of at least 1,800 hours annually in practical training and technical training combined. A general rule of thumb is that roughly 80 per cent of this yearly time investment represents job-site experience.
The remainder consists of a yearly eight-week stint of technical training. An apprentice is not considered a “Level 3 Apprentice” until the total time requirement of 3,600 hours (two years of 1,800 hours) has been satisfied.
You are eligible for certification as a journeyperson on your anticipated completion date only when the total requirement of 5,400 hours of accumulated experience on-the-job and in school has been satisfied, all fees have been paid and you have passed your Red Seal examination. Achieving a Red Seal certification after completing a journeyman rating provides the ironworker tradesperson the opportunity to work in most all of our provinces.
First-year apprenticing ironworkers can earn in the area of $60,000 per year with pay scales rising with time served and skills and experience gained. First Nations people can find plenty of opportunities in the ironworker trade both here in Manitoba and nationwide with many projects underway near their rural communities and in the larger city centres.
As a journeyperson ironworker you can expect to be well-compensated while building significant infrastructure to meet the needs of our population now and into the future. You can also look forward to the pride you will have earned knowing that your hands and skill were part of a team of skilled tradespeople that transformed someone’s ideas and drawings into present-day reality.

For more information on becoming an ironworker, email or call 204-783-7853.

University student shifts gears to truck & transport mechanic

Jennifer Nguyen didn’t start her career as a truck and transport mechanic. She spent four years in university majoring in business and politics before realizing that she had lost interest in her studies and needed a change. She decided to take a year off to refocus.
During this time, Nguyen came to appreciate that she really enjoys working with her hands. “I liked working with cars and being hands-on, it’s fun,” she recalls. Nguyen began to look for programs at Red River College to build her skills and to do something new. “I chose the Truck and Transport Mechanic Program based on growing industry demand for skilled workers,” she says, adding the course content was appealing, too.
Nguyen has never looked back. She signed up as an apprentice and has been working in the trade for three years. Changing her career path is a decision she does not regret. “I can honestly say I have never second-guessed my choice and I continue to be happy with what I do.”
Nguyen admits that shifting gears wasn’t always easy and she had a difficult time adjusting to a new schedule. “In university, you can basically set your own schedule; this program was different because I had to be there and stay focused all day.”
The time commitment wasn’t the only obstacle Nguyen had to overcome; initially, she also found it difficult to fit in. The only woman in her program, Nguyen felt a lot of pressure in the beginning to keep up with the other students.
Despite these challenges, Nguyen persisted though her program and now feels right at home in her chosen trade. “Three years later, I’m much more comfortable. My relationships with coworkers have changed and the same thing is expected of me as any other journeyperson in the shop.”
Job security, viable future
Nguyen recently shared her experiences as a female apprentice in a non-traditional trade at Apprenticeship Manitoba’s Building Bridges: Increasing Women in the Trades forum held Oct. 2.
The first event of its kind in Manitoba, the forum’s purpose was to provide the opportunity for female apprentices and journeypersons to talk about their experiences in the skilled trades, and to inform employers, government and educational stakeholders about the challenges they face. Participants were asked to identify barriers as well as potential solutions to address these challenges.
Nguyen says women need to become more informed about the career choices available to them. “The current and anticipated ongoing high demand for truck and transport mechanics offers me job security and a viable future.”
She believes it is also important to highlight women who are already working in the trades. “We need to get out there and let the public know that this is already happening. More and more of us are selecting a trade as our career choice.”
Nguyen offers simple yet important advice to women who are just starting out in the skilled trades: “Stay positive! With hard work, a good sense of humour and a good attitude, you can succeed.”
For more information about the skilled trades and how to get involved as an apprentice, visit the Apprenticeship Manitoba website at
-Apprenticeship Manitoba

Fall into a hobby with fantasy games like Munchkin Quest

By Stephan Bazzocchi

There is a chill in the pumpkin spice-scented air. Thoughts as well as bodies are looking indoors – not that I am an outdoor person to begin with. The chip bowls are full, and the fridge is stocked with Half Pints craft beers.
You’ve shaken down your guests and confiscated their stash of Monopoly money they had tucked away in sleeves, the board is set up, and your guests are fighting over the race car token. Slyly you pull out your token of a little horn-helmed guy brandishing a rather intimidating-looking chainsaw. “I get an extra 200 dollars and get to roll three dice instead of two for every turn,” you triumphantly exclaim. You are met with blank expressions of disbelief.
After a few moments of awkward silence, someone demands to know exactly what it is you are talking about. “It’s right here in the rules,” you state as you pull out the rule book for Munchkin Quest and point to the section that explains using your munchkin in other games and the bonuses it brings. More silence – perhaps some anger – and now definitely some chips and popcorn are being thrown at you.
Once the barrage has abated, someone asks you to explain what this Munchkin Quest is. You happily pull out the box, explain that the premise is running around a build-as-you-play dungeon, helping and hindering the other players in a mad race to gain the most loot, get your munchkin to Level 10, and beat the boss monster.
Shortly thereafter, the Monopoly board is put away, you’ve handed out the starting cards and tokens, people have picked their munchkin token, and the first room tile is on the table. You start as a Level 1 munchkin with no class, and believe me, class goes out the window when this game comes out.
Munchkin Quest takes the role-playing game genre and adds some fun and lunacy to it. Every turn you pick a room tile, and place it where you like, connecting to another room in the dungeon like a giant puzzle.
Monsters ranging from giant goldfish to floating noses appear. You fight them. Search the room for loot. Collect weapons, armour and potions. Gain levels, and so on and so forth. Sounds pretty basic.
The real fun/friendship-breaking/divorce-inducing portion comes in during the monster fights. You can ask your fellow munchkins for help in return for a share of the loot. They may choose to help you or do nothing. They may also decide to help out the monster.
That little Venus flytrap that seemed so harmless a moment ago is now a rampaging horror that makes the mind gibber at its sheer obscene repulsiveness – and it makes short work of defeating you in one round of combat.
You sit there dismayed and start drafting up written proclamations of vendetta as your spouse/BFF-turned-nemesis sits across from you giggling maniacally as they proceed to take all that sweet loot you could have had.
Munchkin Quest is fun, plain and simple. It’s refreshing to play a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously – or seriously at all for that matter.
The pieces (and there are lots of them) are sturdy so they withstand the heated excitement that comes with such a competitive game. The artwork is comical, making fun of all the standard fantasy game tropes.
There really isn’t any other way to create frenemies with such whimsy. You can pick the game up at your favourite board game store. Also, check out the regular Munchkin game. Same premise, no room tiles – all the same mayhem and lunacy.

Live for the best and prepare for the worst

By Janice Desautels

I’ve recently returned from a company conference in Hawaii. Not a bad place to have to attend a conference – with sunny skies, warm weather and the splendid scenery. What could go wrong?
Tragedy can strike us anywhere, at any time. Our organization lost one of our members due to drowning, something no one would have ever conceived of happening on a joyous occasion such as a trip to Hawaii. This is a jolt back to reality; none of us is immune to the probability of loss. A comfort to this family was the background work they did to prepare for the unthinkable.
When we talk about insurance, it most often is around physical items that we place a high value on such as our home, car, electronics and jewelry, to name a few. However, can you answer this question: How would my family fare if I was not here to contribute?

If the answer is that they would be worse off, then shouldn’t the highest value be placed on your ability to generate an income? Over our working life, we use a substantial amount of money to live – money our family needs to reach its full potential.
Mitigating risk is a part of our responsibility as family members, especially if our income is required to support others. The most economical way to do this is through life insurance and critical illness insurance.
One of the most common reasons cited for not insuring ourselves is the lack of knowledge about what to do, resulting in a reluctance to make a decision. There are many companies out there all vying for your purchasing dollar, and good advice through education is essential so that you can trust that you’ve made the best decision.
The following questions will give you a good start in finding the right coverage for you and your family.

What type of insurance do I need?
Over our lifetime, we need to mitigate risks for life events such as income loss, loss of health, debt repayment, children’s education and final expenses. So while income loss will need to be insured over your working life and may need to increase as your income increases, debt repayment may be a shorter timeframe.
In the event of a critical illness, there can be treatments and medication that would not be covered by provincial healthcare, that could potentially consume much of the household income and place a heavy burden on the family.
Some types of insurance are on a term basis, with coverage generally from 10, 20 to 30 years, which can be layered over each other so the insurance expires when you no longer need it. There is also permanent insurance which follows you through your lifetime should you need coverage for a longer period, or for final expenses and protection of your savings. Some types of permanent insurance and critical illness insurance provide a lump sum payment as a benefit.

How much coverage do I need?
First, determine how much of your paycheque is utilized. If there is nothing left at the end of the month, then the answer would be all of it. Field a discussion with your family that answers: in the event of your death, how long of a bridge would they need to make up the gap from the loss of your income?
A benchmark of 10 years is used in a simple calculation, but again, it is personal to you and your family so it may be more or it may be less. What is your debt load? This includes a mortgage and consumer credit.
The need for insurance is very personal and individual. As with our savings goals, this shouldn’t be a “one product for all” approach. The only universal advice is don’t wait, contact the Insurance Council of Manitoba for more information.

Janice Desautels has been working with families and individuals for the last seven years helping educate in the field of financial literacy. She is a Certified Financial Educator with over 15 years experience in teaching and training adults.

Say I, look so good tonight

By Ally Champagne (photos by Laura Dye)

With the arrival of fall comes falling leaves, cooler temps, and great new colours and styles to don.
This fall, it’s all about mixing textures and textiles, such as knits with leather or pleather – or take a black leather pencil skirt, and pair it with a grey or mauve V-neck cashmere sweater, for a professional daytime work outfit.
Evenings present the opportunity to attend a function by adding just a few accessories such as a beautiful mauve scarf, different earrings, stacked bracelets and your black stilettos. Finish this off with a beautiful purple bag, and a gorgeous wrap jacket, and you have your wow-factor going on.
Trendy prints
The novelty prints are aplenty – from animal prints to bold patterns – this fall, the styles are anything but boring. Always have a neutral shade jacket in your closet, whether it be taupe, grey, tan, or all of the above. Find tops which add interest to the neutral tone, such as a bold print in bright colours.
Then, find a complementing pair of trousers, such as navy or black, and accessorize it with a few necklaces, because it seems two or three neckpieces are far better than one these days.
I encourage plus-sized women to embrace powerful prints and bold colours, as well. Black and white does have its place, but colours take centre stage this fall.
The tunic dress returns with a vengeance. You can pull it off in so many ways. Start with a zebra-patterned top, to which, you can add tights or leggings. You can also consider nice slim-fit jeans or palazzo pants. Whatever your flair, the options are endless for this number. I found the perfect one equipped with vertical frills which camouflaged my flaws but also enhanced my assets.
I’m loving the faux-leather lineup: whether trousers, jackets or skirts, they are available in so many boutiques around town. Invest in a great drop-waist dress, or a soft, off-the-shoulder knit sweater, some ankle booties, and you are ready to meet the girls at your favourite spot.
Robe coats
Fashionable and cozy, not to mention designed to keep out the fall chill, robe coats are great for this climate. They come in so many styles, from shawl collars to cuffed sleeves. The colour palettes are unbelievable, from deep blues to soft pinks to exciting purples, and everything in between. You can find them in a large array of materials, tweeds, wools and blends. Be sure to get a size bigger; when the really cold temperatures arrive, you will be glad you are able to fit one of your warm sweaters underneath.
Plaids are no longer just for school girl uniforms. Fall welcomes this look whole-heartedly. Long, three-quarter length and short coats with a large variety of tartan prints can change your mind about snow.
Faux fur is also back. You can find it in outerwear, decorating your favorite mukluks or on earmuffs. Colour schemes vary; I’ve seen off-white, pink, brown and black, with designs on vests, jackets and winter hats, in various fur lengths.
Hot items this fall also include ponchos, anything sequined, blanket coats, metallic tops, suede dresses, denim trench coats, mini tent dresses, fitted white shirts, thin-legged jeans, boots of all lengths, loafers, desert boots, and eternity scarves. Remember – fashion is meant to inspire, so go ahead and give yourself permission to think outside the box. You deserve a great fall look while the season lasts.


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