Careers in commercial construction or manufacturing are an apprenticeship away

Welding is part of the production/manufacturing realm of sheet metal work.
Welding is part of the production/manufacturing realm of sheet metal work.

Choosing a career can be a daunting experience. We all consider the questions: What do I enjoy doing? What am I good at? What are my chances of steady employment?
What can I expect to earn? How do I train? Where can I find the information I need to make an informed choice?
Why would I choose a unionized workplace?
Canadian unions have an exceptional track record when it comes to improving wages and conditions for working people. The union advantage is clear to see.
Working for unionized employers under a collective bargaining agreement, workers have written and legally-binding guarantees covering things like wages, job security, training, and benefits. Canadian unions lobby government at all levels to fight budget cuts; change laws; and improve Employment Insurance, public pension plans, and welfare, to ensure all Canadians benefit from their efforts.
As a unionized worker, your wage rates are six to 10 per cent higher than non-unionized employees. More money on your paycheck!
You have health and dental group benefits coverage, paid for by you and your employer, for sickness, accidents and healthcare not covered by provincial plans.
Pension plan contributions are made by you and your employer, allowing you to grow your retirement fund. Unions lead the way to healthier and safer workplaces, ensuring high compliance with regulations. Unions assist those workers who have been injured with Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba and disability claims.
The SMWIA Local Union 511 has five divisions: four involved in commercial construction trades and one in production/manufacturing. Bruce Harris, business manager, and Larry Boyko, business representative, of the Local 511 Union are willing to answer any questions you may have about unionized employers and career opportunities in any of the five divisions as described below.
1. Sheet Metal Worker
Sheet Metal Worker is an apprenticed trade involved in the fabrication and installation of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC).
Using sheet metal and/or plastic materials, it involves the operation of plasma machines, brakes, specialized power equipment, and power hand tools to cut and form the required pieces.
A Sheet Metal Worker makes and builds all HVAC parts from flat sheet metal sheets or rolls. These are laid out according to plans and built in sheet metal shops.
Installation is completed on the construction sites using ladders, scaffolds, and man-lifts to fit, hang and connect the various parts. Hand tools/rivets/screws, soldering and welding are used to fasten the metal/plastic. Manual dexterity and the ability to perform precision work are required. Good balance and no fear of heights is recommended.
The apprenticeship is for four years, and four levels; 80 per cent practical on-the-job training, as well as 20 per cent theoretical and technical in-school training. Training can begin in high school through the High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP) or after high school with a Grade 12 or equivalent. Specific math courses are recommended.
Training includes blueprint reading, pattern projection, operation of power machine/hand tools and the application of other materials to metal. Once training is satisfactorily completed, you are a Red Seal Journeyperson with a Certificate of Qualification in the trade of Sheet Metal.
2. Roofer
Roofer is an apprenticed trade involved in the installation and repair of flat roofs. Roofers use various materials to create suitable roofing systems, including green, solar, daylighting, built-up and single-ply membrane.
Good balance, no fear of heights, and willingness to work outdoors in all kinds of weather are required. The apprenticeship is for three years, and three levels; 80 per cent practical on-the-job training, as well as 20 per cent theoretical and technical in-school training.
Training can begin in high school through the HSAP or after high school with a minimum of Grade 10 (Grade 12 or equivalent recommended).
Training includes trade-related math, safety procedures, operation of power machine/hand tools and blueprint reading/layout. Once training is satisfactorily completed you are a Red Seal Journeyperson with a Certificate of Qualification in the trade of Roofer.
3. Sheeter/Decker/Cladder
Sheeter/Decker/Cladder is recognized as a skilled trade involved in the installation of metal panel sheeting both vertically and horizontally on buildings, and metal decking on roofs.
Good balance, no fear of heights, and willingness to work outdoors in all kinds of weather are required. Training is practical, on-the-job with an experienced skilled tradesperson.
Progression through various wage levels is based on the hours accumulated and the square footage of sheet installations. A Sheeter/Decker/Cladder Skilled Tradesperson will have completed 2,400 hours in the trade.
4. Air Testing and Balancing Technicians
Air Testing and Balancing Technicians are involved in cleanroom applications and testing procedures in the HVAC industry, including areas of air and water balancing, sound and vibration testing, fan and pump laws, and instrumentation/psychometrics.
Certification is provided by the Associated Air Balance Council based on experience and examinations. Extensive field training and in-house classroom instruction are provided by the employer.
5. Production/Manufacturing
Production/Manufacturing is involved in the metal fabrication and complete manufacture of commercial HVAC grilles, registers and diffusers, filtration, air distribution, and noise control products.
Welding, fitting, painting, and operation of power machines (power brakes, power shears, band saws, hydraulic benders, roll formers and other machines to cut and form metal) are involved, and most of the fabrication occurs in a production line environment. Training is in-house by the employer.
–Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association Local Union 511 Manitoba.

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