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Apprenticeship Mobility Across Canada

By Carter Haydu

In a country with 13 different apprenticeship systems, the inability to get hours worked in one jurisdiction recognized in another appears to be a barrier for journeymen-in-training looking for oilpatch jobs, but greater harmonization of apprenticeship training at the federal level and co-operative agreements between provinces can help solve the problem.

“Currently, the administration of apprenticeship moves between provinces can be extremely complicated depending on the trade, and the province you’re moving from and the province you’re moving to,”  Sarah Watts-Rynard, executive director of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, told the Bulletin. “It is always nice to see when provinces do what they can to actually facilitate mobility, because that is something we see as a problem on a regular basis.”

For example, last month Alberta and Nova Scotia agreed, in principle, to ensure apprenticeship training is transferable between both provinces, allowing for recognition of apprenticeship work experience hours and enhancing labour mobility for apprentices in both provinces.

Aside from last month’s announcement, Alberta is working with other provinces and territories through the New West Partnership Trade Agreement and the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) to enhance apprenticeship mobility. Further, the province recognizes registered apprentices and journeymen from other Canadian jurisdictions at the same level as their home jurisdiction and facilitates the transition of apprentices between provinces.

Under the provisions of the agreement on internal trade, the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board also recognizes the qualifications of journeymen from across Canada.

Apprentices vulnerable to regional economics; mobility offers solution towards certification

Apprentices from Nova Scotia, and all provinces for that matter, should have work hours in Alberta counted towards their training certification, said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (ALF).

“That has not always been the case, and so if this agreement helps address that, then it is a good thing for the individual apprentices. It is also a good thing for the Canadian economy, because it will allow apprentices from the Maritimes to come here to Alberta and fill jobs that are open.”

According to Watts-Rynard, apprentices are very vulnerable to layoffs during hard economic times, as an employer would want to maintain a staff of skilled journeymen first and foremost. Therefore, the ability for apprentices to move to other parts of the country for training hours is key to ensuring all provinces are able to develop and maintain a healthy arsenal of tradespeople into the future.

An Employment and Social Development Canada spokeswoman said the federal government is working with provinces and territories through CCDA to harmonize apprenticeship training and certification requirements in 10 targeted trades: carpenter, mobile crane operator, hydraulic mobile crane operator, welder, tower crane operator, metal fabricator, heavy duty equipment technician, as well as general, structural and ornamental, and reinforcing ironworker.

In an email response to the DOB, the spokeswoman said this project is reviewing various apprenticeship training and certification requirements, such as the sequencing of in-school technical training levels and the total number of training hours.

A federal emphasis on harmonization means that in first-, second- and third-year training, apprentices would be doing comparable and transferable work anywhere across the country, Watts-Rynard noted.

Red Seal allows for journeyman mobility across Canada; ALF says to leave that system alone

McGowan noted that while the Alberta/Nova Scotia agreement should provide improved apprentice mobility, Canada already has a very good mobility of its journeymen.

“We have a very robust system that allows people to move from one province to another once they have obtained their trade certification. It is called the ‘Red Seal Program,’ and it works very well.”

JuneWarren-Nickle's Energy Group Daily Oil Bulletin

Everyday Habits That Will Get You Promoted

By Melissa Allen

There are many articles out there that outline strategies for advancing your career, while inspiring, I often find these concepts to be a bit abstract. Many of us don’t have the time, or even know-how, to apply this advice to our daily lives. However, I have noticed some common behaviours in people who rise quickly through the ranks. So here are some instant, real-world activities that you can start doing today to help you get your next promotion.


Take at least 15 to 30 minutes to industry read books, blogs, news sites and columns specific to your industry every day. This is the quickest, simplest way to stay on top of how your industry is evolving, allowing you to spot potential opportunities for your team, company and your career, and will help position you has a someone on the cutting edge.

Be over-prepared

In today’s hectic, multi-tasking world, being over-prepared can seem impossible. But it’s not. Whether that means opting out of less priority meetings (or sending a replacement), coming in a bit early (or staying a bit late), in order to get that presentation or report just right, it’s well worth it and will allow you to consistently deliver quality work with confidence.

Don’t dwell

Alright so you messed up that one time. But you owned up to it, apologized, recommended a solution, and then put that solution into action, so there’s no need to dwell on it any longer. The more you dwell, the more it takes your focus away from doing everything else right moving forward, and you risk permanently associating yourself with that mistake, jeopardizing future promotions.

Avoid negative people

Jim Rohn said “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” I personally take this to heart and so should anyone who wants to achieve certain things in their life. Spending time with gossipers, backstabbers, or even B-players and the mediocre means acclimatizing yourself to their level.

Follow through

Are you the “type” (like I can be) that always starts projects but never finishes them? Do you have a garage full of half-finished birdhouses or a corner piled high with unfinished knitting? If that sounds familiar then there’s a chance your habit of “unfinishing” projects could be trickling over into your work life. In your personal and professional life, make it a habit to always finish things you start, and keep everyone up to date with your progress along the way. In no time at all, you’ll develop a reputation for being a reliable colleague who others can depend on to get things done.

Success isn’t about doing one thing that will work instantly, it’s about methodically developing a bunch of small habits and attitudes, that when combined, prepare you for taking on new roles and responsibilities…and the success that comes with it.

How to Land a Job for the Holiday Season

By Peter Harris

If you’re looking to land a seasonal gig for the holidays this year, you can’t wait until after Halloween to start thinking about Christmas. Employers are already hiring.

Obviously retail outlets staff up for the fourth quarter of the year, requiring added staff to mind the cash registers and sales floor and also to stock shelves, create displays and manage events. It’s estimated that many retailers do up to 40% of their annual sales in the last quarter of the year, with November and December being the biggest months.

But it’s not just retailers hiring. Shipping and distribution companies, especially with the rapid growth in online shopping see a huge growth in demand in the fourth quarter. Fed Ex announced that it was hiring 50,000 new people just for the holiday season. Canada Post began posting for seasonal positions back in August.

Hospitality, tourism, and seasonal attractions all do the bulk of their hiring before the start of the actual holiday season so that newly acquired staff are ready to hit the ground running.

While the hospitality and retail sectors are two of the industries showing amongst the most robust job creation this year, competition for seasonal jobs is still expected to be fierce. There has been an ongoing situation of much higher than average youth unemployment in Canada for several years now. Compounding that will be the students looking for part-time and temporary work for the holiday season and increased competition from semi-retired seniors filling more and more of customer-facing positions.

Even if you don’t need the extra cash for the holiday season this year, you should still consider getting a job for the good of your future. A recent study out of the University of British Columbia showed how young people who work in the fast-food industry or hold down part-time jobs while studying end up being more successful in their long-term careers than their peers who didn’t work. So get out there, and start now.

How to land a seasonal job for 2014:

  • Apply now. Holiday hiring has already begun, so the sooner you can get your application in, the better. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. Seasonal and part-time positions have a much higher than average turnover rate. Many companies will also scatter their staffing up over a period of weeks so that they can gage traffic levels and consumer confidence this season.

  • Tailor your resume or application to the position you are applying for. Customer service skills, product knowledge, sales experience, and experience managing cash transactions will all give you a leg up. Make sure you highlight these in your application, and be prepared to speak to them in an interview.

  • Look the part of the retailer. If you’re applying for a retail gig, be aware of the brand and style of the outlet you’re targeting. If you look like a good fit with their image when you walk in the door, you’ll have a better chance of walking out with a job.

  • Be flexible. Many places are open longer hours during the holiday shopping season. The regular staff are dealing with increased volumes of merchandising and customers. Employers need to hire people who can pick up the slack. Being available (and cheerful) to work evenings, weekends, long shifts, short shifts (and short-notice shifts), will all go a long way towards getting you the gig and making you invaluable on the job.

A seasonal gig is also a great way to make an impression on employers. I worked full time in a retail bookstore while in university, and I often saw the new holiday workers who shone at work kept on as regular staff when the Christmas crunch ended. (Sometimes even at the expense of workers who had been there longer, but who were less customer-friendly or hard working.)

The One Thing that Most Resumes are Still Getting Wrong

By Peter Harris

My parents are going through this thing where they’ve suddenly decided to clean out the house of clutter. This means that every time they visit they bring me more and more mementos from my childhood including notebooks, papers, and embarrassing photos.

One such pile included a file folder of my early resumes. You had to print them in those days either for mailing, hand delivering, or faxing to potential employers. (Yes, I grew up before the Internet was a thing.)

I found looking at my old resumes (often for some reason titled in a bold historic font Curriculum Vitae) more cringe-worthy than the long-haired photos from my long-gone wannabe rock star youth. Perhaps this is because I do this for a living now, but the resumes really were quite bad.

And here’s the thing: they were bad precisely because I had followed all of the resume rules I was told use at the time. And from the resumes I often see here at Workopolis, many people are still following those same outdated instructions.

The traditional resume pattern

Literally thousands of resumes have the title Resume, C.V., or Curriculum Vitae. Employers already know what a resume is, so labelling it as such is a waste of valuable real-estate. This is your headline, the first thing anyone will read on the document that is their first impression of you. Make it count. Your resume should be titled the name of the job that you are applying for – or how you best describe your career.

Next off, too many traditional resumes start out with the candidate’s objective statement about what they are looking for in a next employment opportunity.

There’s also usually a few self-descriptive sentences about how you’re a hard-working team player who is results oriented and customer focused.

Then they go on to detail what you’ve been up to in your professional life so far, what you studied in school, and what it is you’re good at. Sometime they even list your interests and hobbies.

In short, the resume provides a detailed portrait of who you are and what you’re looking for as a professional.

But how is that interesting to your audience?

You’ll be sending your resume to potential employers who don’t know you and don’t yet care what you’re looking for. Why should they? When reading resumes, employers care about whether or not the person it describes can step into the role they need filled. Do you have the skills to do the job? Can you make their lives easier by filling the vacancy in their team?

Employers aren’t asking, “What has this candidate done, and what are their objectives?”

No, they’re asking, “What can this candidate do for me? Does this resume indicate that they can do it better than the other candidates whose resumes I’m reading?”

Your resume isn’t about you, it is about the employer

This is the key message that your resume needs to deliver: I understand what needs to be done (in this role, at this company), and here’s why I would be great at it.

And that’s what most resumes still get wrong. They’re focused on the candidate – the author, when they should be entirely focused on the employer – the audience.

Saying that you’re ‘results oriented’ is useless. Listing the actual results that you achieved is powerful. (Similarly, being a hard worker isn’t particularly interesting unless you manage to accomplish something through all that exertion you put in.) In the real world there are no marks for effort or intent. Results matter.

Describe your past work accomplishments to show that you have the people skills, work ethic, and technical ability to succeed and excel at the job that needs filling.

This is why you must update your resume for each job that you apply for. And updating your resume doesn’t mean simply adding your latest job to the top. You need to read through every word and make sure that every skill included and accomplishment listed are described in a way that makes them relevant to the targeted job. That’s the first rule of successful marketing: focus on the customer needs, not the product specs. (Yes, in this case, you’re the product.)

Not Doing This is Gross

By Elizabeth Bromstein

Do you wash your hands after you use the restroom?

If you all answered yes, 10% of you are lying.

Last year, the New York Times reported that researchers in Michigan observed 3,749 people in public restrooms and found that 10.3 percent did not wash their hands at all, and 22.8 percent used no soap. The rest used soap, but only 5.3 percent washed for longer than 15 seconds. Apparently, you’re supposed to scrub for at least 20 seconds for optimal disease control.

Of course, these people didn’t know they were being watched. Had they known, it’s pretty much guaranteed the number of proper hand washers would have been significantly higher.

Case in point: A new study from the University of Iowa’s Carver College has found that healthcare workers are 7% more likely to comply with hand hygiene regulations when their colleagues were nearby.

In total, between these two studies, over 50,000 hand hygiene opportunities were recorded, and none of those under observation were aware of it.

“What does this have to do with my career?” you’re wondering, unless you’re a healthcare worker, in which case the implications are obvious.

What it has to do with your career is this: You never know who else might be in that bathroom, so act accordingly.

Last year recruiters shared their job interview horror stories, and one of them said:

“While in the restroom washing my hands I noticed someone walk out of the bathroom stall without washing his hands, ‘Gross,’ I thought. I went back to my office and the receptionist rang to inform me my 1:30 appointment was in the lobby. Low and behold my 1:30 was the person from the bathroom. I met the candidate at the front and sure enough he reached out to shake my hand. I told him that I had arthritis, so I was unable to shake his hand.”

Even if (you think) nobody else is in the bathroom with you, wash your hands anyway. Even if you’re at home, and you’re certain nobody is there. You’ll get sick less often.

The Washington Post reported just the other day on research that found viruses can spread from a single doorknob to 40-60% of surfaces and people in a building in less than four hours. Ew. Wash your hands.

What I would also like to do here is use hand washing as an analogy for best behavior, which we should always display in and out of the restroom, and one way to ensure this is to assume we’re always being watched – which you are, sort of. You never know who might snap a secret picture of you not offering your seat to the old lady on the bus and post it to social media. (And, by the way, shame on you.)

As Thomas Jefferson once suggested, “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.”

Evidence suggests even the illusion of an audience is enough to change our behaviour, that many of us don’t make choices based on what the right thing to do is, we make them based on how they make us look, even to an imaginary pair of eyes.

So, the advice I’m giving is, despite a seemingly endless stream of Twitter drivel advising you to “dance like no one is watching” (stop freaking telling me how to dance, dammit), if you want to be happier, healthier, better liked and more hireable, you should actually:

  1. Always assume someone is watching and behave accordingly.

  2. Wash your hands.

How to Prepare For and Conduct a Great Phone Interview

By Robert Half

As a manager, telephone interviews are the go-to method for narrowing your list of candidates and moving on to face-to-face interviews. A phone interview is short and preliminary, so that makes it pretty simple, right? Not so fast. If you’re not properly preparing for a phone interview with job applicants, you could be wasting time and passing up on top-tier talent. Here are some quick tips for conducting a great phone interview.

Preparing for a phone interview

A typical phone screen interview lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, so you’ll need to know exactly what you’ll focus on to be as efficient as possible. Before you call anyone, re-review the job description for the position. Prepare one list of interview questions and use it for every short-listed candidate in order to make fair and accurate comparisons. Then check candidates’ resumes again to see if you have questions about what’s in them and what’s not, such as missing dates in their work history. By having this information at your fingertips, you’ll be able to focus on what candidates are saying rather than searching your computer for relevant files during the phone interview.

During the phone interview

Take notes. Even though you think you’ll remember what job candidates say, it’s important to write it down, either with pen and paper or on your computer. This will help later when you’re discussing the interviews with other members of the team. Also make notes of your overall impressions of applicants.

Keep a scorecard. Just as asking consistent questions will help you assess candidates fairly after the interviews, keeping a rating scorecard of candidates’ strengths and weaknesses in areas such as experience, knowledge, communication skills and professional engagement will help you maintain your objectivity. This is especially important for candidates you might be prompted to select based on likeability rather than skills and experience.

Assess the skills candidates say they have. The phone interview is the time to sniff out and separate the “resume padders” from the “real deals.” For example, if you’re looking for a person to manage complicated projects and the candidates you’re interviewing have that skill on their resumes, ask for specific examples. This is a great way to find out whether this responsibility was a major or minor part of their duties, how recently they managed projects, and what the outcomes were.

Don’t dominate the conversation. In fact, you should talk for only about 20 percent of the time. This will ensure you get the most information during the short phone interview. And be patient; don’t think that you have to fill every pause in the conversation. The silence could mean candidates are thinking through their responses before speaking — an admirable trait that you’ll want to notice.

Have good phone manners. The candidate is expected to display certain etiquette during the phone interview, and the same applies to the interviewer. Find a quiet place, such as a conference room, to cut down on background noise. For the best call quality, use a landline. Help put candidates at ease with some small talk before diving into the Q&A portion. And since you’ll be on the phone for a while, it doesn’t hurt to have a glass of water nearby. If you need to sneeze, cough or clear your throat while the other person is speaking, put the phone on mute.

A phone interview requires thought and effort if your goal is to learn as much as possible about candidates. Use these tips to save time and make the most out of this key step in the hiring process.

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide. For additional management advice, read our blog at or follow us on social media at