Tag Archives: careers

They’ve got skills

National skills competition brings the country’s best to Winnipeg.

An expected 18,000 visitors and more than 500 youth are heading to Winnipeg this month for the 2017 Skills/Compétences Canada competition.

The event takes place May 31 to June 3, 2017, at the RBC Convention Centre.

The competition, which is in it’s 23rd year, will see Canada’s top youth and apprentices who are enrolled in trades training programs in colleges and high schools across Canada showcasing their skills. The competitions are represented in six sectors: Construction, Employment, Information Technology, Manufacturing and Engineering, Transportation, and Service.

Skills Canada says the event provides tremendous opportunities for students from not only the province of Manitoba, but the entire country, to develop a stronger appreciation for the importance of skilled trades and technology careers.

In the next 10 years it is expected there is going to be a demand for close to 12,000 jobs for skilled workers in the construction industry alone in Manitoba.

This past April, over 500 students took part in the 20th Annual Skills Manitoba competition at Red River College. Students competed in over 40 different contests with a chance to represent Manitoba at the upcoming Skills Canada event.

Every two years, the winners of the Skills Canada National Competition go on to compete at the WorldSkills Competition, where their skills are put to the test at an international level against the best in the world. Manitobans Ashley Weber and Silas Meeches will be a part of World Skills Team Canada 2017 taking place in Abu Dhabi October 14th to 19th.

Let’s make some female friends in the workplace, shall we?

The Corporate Climb Laura Wittig
The Corporate Climb
Laura Wittig

Being a woman is difficult on the best of days. Stilettos hurt. Doing your hair and makeup takes a long time. Looking like the airbrushed models on magazine covers (like we are supposed to, right?) is quite literally impossible.
We can work our butts off to statistically earn about eighty cents to every dollar that our male counterparts earn. None of these things are wonderful.
The sad thing, however, is that often none of these things are the worst part about growing up and living as a woman. From young girls playing in the playground, to senior citizens living together in assisted-living facilities, it is the girl-on-girl bullying that seems to be the worst part about going through this world as a female.
It is the gossip, the judgment, and the emotional (and sometimes physical) abuse that can really be the absolute worst part about being a female. So the question remains – if we are all walking down the same, sometimes extremely difficult road, then why do we insist on making it even that much more difficult on each other?
Girls can be mean. Even women who are actually wonderful, intelligent and loving people at heart can still be mean (both intentionally and unintentionally). So what can we, as the kind, amazing women that we truly are, do to end this cruel tradition that consistently sets us all back?

Here are three ways to end the mean girl trend.

1. Educate the young women in our lives.
I have heard many little girls make mean comments about other little girls that they know. Sometimes they know that they are being mean. Sometimes they are simply repeating things that they have heard others say.
It is time for us to step up and be role models; stop them when they make these statements, and then take it a step further and educate them. Tell them about how important differences between girls are, and emphasize the strengths and skills that others have. As a role model, you should have a zero tolerance policy for girl-on-girl hate and girl-on-girl bullying. Junior high wasn’t pleasant for most girls I know. It’s time to change that.
2. Don’t fall into the trap yourself.
It is very easy to engage in gossip, sometimes by even just agreeing and nodding our heads. We have all done this. It’s time to stop. Stand up for women when you can, and if you can’t… at least change the subject. Gossip helps nobody. Not the victims of it, the people who are listening to it, and certainly not the people who are spreading it.
3. Change your perception.
Unfortunately, it is very easy to pass judgment upon others. So if it is that easy, why can’t we pass along our positive thoughts just as easily? I challenge all of the women out there to start voicing the happy opinions rather than the negative ones.
If someone has done something fantastic, maybe even a stranger or a friend of a friend – tell her. The difference a compliment can make in someone’s day is the same difference an insult can make. So why do we often choose to voice our negative opinions and keep our positive opinions silent?
It’s time to reverse some bad trends. Girl-on-girl bullying is prevalent and present in women of all ages. It’s time to stop wasting our very valuable time and resources fighting against each other. Let’s all take a stand by not putting up with it anymore. Don’t let your daughters and nieces do it, don’t let your mother do it, and most importantly, stop doing it yourself.
Athena Leadership is a Manitoba-based non-profit organization dedicated to advancing young women in leadership. Laura Wittig currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Director of Communications. She is a proponent of helping other women advance in their careers, and seeks to share her perspective on how we can always keep learning personally and professionally.

Learning the trade secrets

Apprenticeship has benefits for employers and employees alike.

In today’s labour market, employers need skilled tradespeople. The current high demand for skilled workers means plenty of opportunities to pursue a trade as a viable, rewarding career pathway. Apprenticeship is a way to train in one of over 50 different skilled trades and “earn while you learn”.

Under the apprenticeship model, a journeyperson (someone who is fully certified in a particular trade) provides practical, on-the-job training to an individual who wants to earn a Certificate of Qualification in a skilled trade.

The apprenticeship system is the responsibility of Apprenticeship Manitoba, a branch of the provincial government that oversees the delivery of accredited, workplace-based training along with technical learning in a classroom setting. Currently, 10,000 apprentices working in over 55 trades are registered with Apprenticeship Manitoba.

Jennifer Nguyen speaks about her experience as a truck and transport mechanic apprentice.
Jennifer Nguyen speaks about her experience as a truck and transport mechanic apprentice.

Lasting career
Hiring an apprentice not only benefits the individual being trained, but also the provincial economy as a whole. Jennifer Nguyen, a truck and transport mechanic apprentice, believes the apprenticeship system directly improves the lives of people who want to increase the job opportunities available to them and build lasting careers.

“The apprenticeship system affects all Manitobans in countless positive ways,” says Nguyen. “It means we can walk into an auto body shop and trust that our vehicles will be fixed properly, the roads that we drive those vehicles on will be safe and take us where we need to go, and the buildings and homes those roads take us to will be secure and well built.”

Companies that hire apprentices also benefit by ensuring that their labour needs are met.

“On the job, I’ve seen people who have years of experience going into retirement, only to be replaced by someone who has no experience at all,” says Nguyen. “By hiring apprentices on an ongoing basis, employers can fill those gaps so that there are more skilled workers on staff, and more opportunities for new staff to be trained.”

Truck and transport mechanic
Nguyen is enrolled in the four-year truck and transport mechanic program. Truck and transport mechanics are certified to maintain, service, repair and modify transport trucks and their components. They also service emergency vehicles, farm and gravel trucks, public transport and school buses, public utility vehicles, semi-trailer trucks and truck tractors.

An apprentice training to be a certified truck and transport mechanic learns to:

  • Use sophisticated diagnostic equipment and techniques to service electrical or electronic system faults and perform component replacements.
  • Service basic fuel and fuel injection systems, electrical and suspension systems, air conditioning and emission controls.
  • Service and repair engines, braking systems, air brakes, steering components, drive lines and differentials.
  • Disassemble, align, fit and machine parts with hand or power tools.
  • Assemble, install, repair and maintain equipment including, hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics, heating and refrigeration units.
  • Rebuild, adjust and service a variety of components such as engine pistons and connecting rods, cylinders, cylinder head valves, camshafts, crankshafts and time gears.
  • Repair and replace frames, axles, hubs, tires and wheels and coupling units.
  • Calibrate electrical test equipment.

Training in this trade involves eight weeks of in-school training in each of the first two years, six weeks of training in the third year and four in the final year.

The apprentice spends the rest of the time learning the trade under the guidance of a journeyperson in a workplace setting. This allows the apprentice to earn a good wage while acquiring skills that will last a lifetime and open the door to a future of continued advancement.

For more information about trades training opportunities, contact Apprenticeship Manitoba toll free at 1-877-978-7233, email apprenticeship@gov.mb.ca, or visit our website at manitoba.ca/tradecareers.

The extraordinary invention centre

Composites Innovation Centre is developing products to drive western Canadian businesses to the next level.

The bio composite motorbike designed by CIC.
The bio composite motorbike designed by CIC.

By Jenny Ford

In the foyer of Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) are a motorbike and an electric car. Not too far off sit a snowboard and, at the back of the building, an eco-friendly gazebo. They’re the tip of the iceberg of the innovative projects CIC has worked on over the last decade, projects that have helped propel western Canadian businesses forward.

“People work here because it’s diverse work, it’s interesting work, it’s exciting work. You’re developing new products, but you also want to make a difference in the community. Working here it may be more obvious how you can do that,” says Mike Hudek, manager of business development and operations at the Winnipeg centre.

A CIC employee works in the prototype facility.
A CIC employee works in the prototype facility.

CIC, which celebrated its 10th anniversary on Oct. 23, is a not-for-profit organization funded by both industry and government. It works with companies and government in all aspects of developing composite products, which in turn helps businesses grow, develop and create more jobs.

CIC’s employees are inventors of sorts, designing, testing and working with businesses to develop and prototype new composite products.

Composites, you say?

Composite materials are strong, lightweight materials developed in a lab that use different kinds of fibres bonded together chemically. The material is an increasingly important technology in manufacturing, says Hudek.

The goal of these products is to be more cost effective, environmentally friendly and also offer enhanced performance. Better-designed, lightweight bus doors will save fuel costs, for instance.

“It’s a type of material and it’s a type of product where there really is increasing demand because of the pressures of fuel prices and because people want better looking products,” he says.

Composite technologies can be anything from designing a bus panel to creating prototypes for a new curling broom. CIC helps companies develop, test and commercialize composite technologies for aerospace, ground transportation, biomaterials, civil infrastructure and other industries.

The use of composites is growing and CIC looks to support companies to take advantage of this growth, says Hudek, which will eventually create more jobs in these industries. The green revolution has also sparked an interest in bio composite materials, made from natural fibres.

“Our companies are trying to become more competitive with their products and part of that is the look of the product and composites do facilitate that quite a bit,” he says.

However, Hudek notes CIC isn’t there to compete with existing companies, but to help with the development process.

“We provide development around the technology to see if that technology makes sense,” he says. “We’re supporting at the tactical level, company by company, but we’re also involved in larger collaborative projects to support the industry at a strategic planning level as a province.”

Invention centre
The centre is equipped with classrooms, a prototype facility, as well as a lab to test materials. Although not accredited, the lab still prepares specimens of composite materials for testing and it evaluates reports from accredited labs.

CIC also examines composites in order to test and adjust how much of each material should be used.

Over the years, the centre has been involved in a multitude of projects. Recently, they helped design a prototype for a new curling broom for a Winnipeg company. The broom has a bent handle, making it easier to hold and maneuver, Hudek describes.

Another project is the green gazebo made with a hemp composite roof and a wooden frame. A local manufacturer is currently selling the gazebo under the name “the ultimate gazebo”. The motorbike and electric car are other examples of products developed by the centre using green bio composite materials.

CIC is also heavily involved in the transportation sector, helping Winnipeg companies, such as Motor Coach Industries, make parts for their buses from composites.

Careers and composites
On top of this, CIC also helps with training. The centre works with students from the University of Manitoba and Red River College, as well as people in the industry to better educate them about the use of composites.

“We orient companies with what are the benefits, what are the challenges. We help them if they are interested in exploring using composites in their products, what makes sense and what doesn’t and really trying to create connections between them and the existing fabricators in the region,” Hudek says.

There are currently 27 employees at CIC with two to four summer students and usually a few co-op students each year. Many employees, especially for aerospace projects, work offsite directly with businesses to help develop their products and composite capabilities. By helping others, employees are also creating future jobs at these companies.

“Where else can you work towards making your future job? You’re growing the industry you’re working in. You’re just making more opportunity for yourself and others,” Hudek says.

The core employees at CIC are engineers, mainly mechanical engineers, says Maureen Williamson, manager of finance and administration at CIC. There are also a lot of employees in the design field.

“Typically, they’re people that have had exposure to composites that are familiar and that have had some training or some experience with composites,” she says.

Employees’ education backgrounds are generally University of Manitoba for engineering or Red River College on the design side, she notes. The company grows a few people each year.

“We’re extremely fortunate here because we get innovative and creative talented minds,” she says, “that’s one of the things our employees really like. Every day is different and every day brings a new project.”

The next new technology 3D printing

by Dorothy Dobbie

Six years ago, a 3D printer would have set you back $100,000 to $300,000 to make a flimsy prototype from a waxy material. Today, 3D printers are available as desktop printers for the price of a good computer and materials can vary from living cells to gold and titanium. You can even use a 3D printer to make another one for a friend.

3D-printing Continue reading The next new technology 3D printing