Labourers: a doorway to all the trades

When it comes to joining a trade, not all candidates have a specific skilled trade in mind that they would like to pursue. The job of a general labourer can provide an insight to joining another skilled trade, as they all depend on general labourers to help fulfill tasks in the construction industry.
Working alongside other skilled tradesmen and women, you will gain an understanding of the many attributes that it takes to specialize in one trade or another. It should be noted that the labourers trade does offer its own apprenticeships and the opportunity to become Red Seal certified.
In Manitoba, labourers work in industrial, institutional and commercial construction sites and also on road building, masonry, hydro and pipeline construction projects.
Looking forward, Manitoba has many projects either underway or set to begin that will require construction labourers. Those include new pipeline work, road building and rebuilding, and new hydro dam projects.
Construction labourers perform a variety of tasks at all kinds of construction sites. Some tasks require little skill and can be learned quickly, while other tasks may require considerable experience or training.
The job duties of a general labourer vary greatly. They may include cleaning and preparing a job site, delivering materials, and using a variety of tools and machines such as forklifts, bobcats, zoom booms, aerial lifts, power drills, grinders, saws, pressure washers and water spraying equipment.
Labourers set up and take down concrete form work, scaffolding and other temporary structures and work closely with many of the other skilled tradesmen delivering the tools and materials they need to complete their tasks. At road construction sites, general labourers may control traffic, set up markers, cones and barricades and flag vehicles to control the traffic flow.
The labour trade is also responsible for placing all the concrete utilized in the building process whether that is in the industrial, commercial or institutional sector. Tasks performed in this area are the first steps in becoming a concrete finisher, one of the higher skills in the labour trade.
General labourers are often required to work outside in all kinds of weather or in buildings without heating or air conditioning.
While the qualifications for this trade may not be as onerous as some of the other skilled trades, there are still a number of general abilities that are required. Fitness and physical strength, good hand-eye coordination and endurance are a few of the must-haves for this line of work. The abilities to understand and communicate information and to be a quick learner are also essential.
There are no minimum educational requirements to be a general labourer, but those with specialized skills will have the best opportunities in the job market. High school classes in general shop, welding, mechanical drawing, blueprint reading, woodworking, physics and mathematics are helpful.
Some tools and machines are computerized requiring specialized knowledge to operate. Computer and estimating skills will also help toward better employment opportunities and the chance for advancement in the trade.
There is great pride in Manitoba’s labour force and as one looks around our province and its cities, it is easy to see why. General construction labourers have played a key and vital role in the building of all our hydro dams, our road infrastructure and many of our most recent projects including the expansion of RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg, Winnipeg’s new water treatment facility, the Disraeli Bridges Project, Manitoba Hydro Place, MTS Centre and Investors Group Field.
We have always worked with our hands to build for our needs, to bring to reality what others have dreamed up. There is a great sense of accomplishment in the work of a construction labourer. For the opportunity to open your doorway to the trades, please contact Victor DaSilva at the Construction & Specialized Workers Union Local 1258 at 204-956-4258 or

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