CAREERS & JOB SKILLS
Spending months away from work without
income and away from one's family can often discourage apprenticeship
training and skills upgrading.
This is why some training providers are
experimenting with alternative programs that utilize technology to speed
up learning and minimize time on campus.
And with such a huge looming demand for
skilled labour, the industry is looking to remove any barrier it can to
train up the next generation.
Victoria Pazukha, strategy and business
development manager at SkillSource BC, spoke at the Canadian
Apprenticeship Forum's annual conference in Vancouver about a new
program with Thompson Rivers University (TRU).
With tens of billions in LNG work poised
to go ahead, pipefitters have been identified as one of the most
in-demand trades. To spur training of more pipefitters, TRU is testing
out an accelerated steamfitter/pipefitter technical training program.
Pipefitters use blueprints and project
specifications to construct and repair piping systems that carry water,
steam, chemicals and fuel.
Steamfitters are typically pipefitters
who specialize in pipe systems that move liquids or gases under high
Pazukha explained that the project uses
blended learning to shorten classroom training time by around 25 per
cent. Levels three and four for the trade to reach Red Seal
certification have been reduced from 14 to 10 weeks.
This is possible by allowing students to
learn much of the material online, at their own pace before attending
the school. The school will then study its effect on completion rates
and trade certification. Lindsay Langill, dean of TRU's School of Trades
and Technology, noted that the new program, part of the federal
government's Flexibility and Innovation in Apprenticeship Technical
Training pilot project, recognizes the difference between academic
learners and those who go in to vocational programs.
The program is currently recruiting
students and expects its first cohort in November.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic has also been
experimenting with alternative learning.
The school has four campuses in the
province with specialized equipment for certain trades training only at
some, often meaning travel for students.
This also means higher volume on some
campuses the school wanted to ease.
John Erickson, Saskatchewan Polytechnic
School of Construction dean also spoke at the conference, explaining
that the school's blended learning efforts began back in 2008. The
school was looking for a way to encourage those in the trades to upgrade
their skills. But this meant being away from home and away from work for
months. They started with an online carpenter upgrading program. Then
construction electrician, industrial mechanic and automotive service
technician were added.
The courses are open to trade qualifiers
or apprentices who haven't succeeded on their journeyperson exam. They
can apply at any time during the year except the summer break and have
eight months to complete online training.
Online learning also saved the school's
struggling parts person trade. All levels are now offered only online.
The school is branching out to offer all
four levels of carpentry through a mixture of online and in-class
Typically an apprentice would have to
spend seven weeks on campus but with the hybrid model the theory portion
would be done online at the student's own pace leaving only three weeks
on campus doing practical learning in the shop.
Erickson said the school is expanding the
hybrid program to include construction electrician, plumber, heavy duty
equipment tech and truck and transport mechanic.
Part of the school's confidence to try
the different approach came from a research paper that came out last
year studying outcomes of a similar program in Ontario.
The study, Hybrid Delivery of College
Instruction in the Skilled Trades: Supporting Apprenticeship Completion,
examined the Industrial Mechanic Millwright apprentice program at two
Ontario colleges and found that there were no significant differences in
completion rates, grades, satisfaction and engagement levels, retention
and completion between traditional teaching methods and a hybrid
The researchers from the Higher Education
Quality Council of Ontario concluded that by combining online courses
for theory and in-class learning, hybrid apprenticeship programs may be
able to achieve comparable outcomes to traditional in-class programs,
but in approximately half the required time.
Journal of Commerce
Written by Peter Harris
I've had to hire team members for
multiple roles over the years, and here are a few things I've learned
from being on this side of the table that I didn't know when I was a
candidate applying for jobs.
When an employer invites you to interview
for a job, they already think you're qualified. Your resume and cover
letter, job application or online profile have already told them that
you have the skills, education and experience that they are looking for.
If there is a phone interview, that is to pre-screen for these core
skills before meeting you in person.
There's a good chance
job is yours to lose
Because they need someone with your
abilities, and the hiring process is taking up valuable time from
their regular duties, hiring managers usually come into the
face-to-face interview wanting to give you the job. Your challenge
is to not change their minds.
Employers want to like
you as a person
Since they already think you have the
skills, and they want to hire you, what are most employers looking
for in an interview? Frankly, they want to know if they like you and
if you're going to fit in with the team. Once they hire you, you
become someone they will have to see and speak to every day at work.
They often end up spending more time with you than they do with
their family or friends. So likeability really matters.
This is why coming up with clichéd
answers to standard questions won't work. If you say that your
biggest flaw is that you're a 'perfectionist workaholic,' the
interviewer won't learn anything about the real you, and may be
annoyed by your lack of sincerity.
Be personable, and talk in a
friendly, conversational manner rather than simply quoting rehearsed
answers. Try to build rapport with the interviewer.
Your looks really matter
How you look may determine whether or not
you get the job. If you are dressed too casually, you may appear
unprofessional or not serious about the role. If the company culture, or
the hiring manager specifically has issues with multiple piercings,
visible tattoos or odd facial hair, these may cost you the gig. If you
appear nervous, sweaty and easily flustered, they might assume that you
are not up for the job.
Dress up, wear clothes that are just a
touch more formal than required on the day-to-day of the job. Arrive a
little early so that you don't have to run to make it on time, and be at
your calm and confident best.
You can be too eager for the role
While employers prefer candidates who are
enthusiastic about working for them specifically, it is possible to be
Being overly needy makes you look bad and
lowers your value as a potential hire. For example, if you're currently
employed and you tell your interviewer that you could start work right
away, this could hurt your chances. It indicates that you're willing to
make an unprofessional exit from your present job by leaving them
hanging with no notice. Is that the kind of person they would want on
Although it's good to send a thank-you
note after an interview, too much follow-up can kill your chances.
Calling or emailing multiple times to check up on the status of your
application will make you look desperate and will likely get on the
The timing isn't fair
The rules of timing are not the same for
employers and candidates. The employer can take as long as they need to
call you for an interview after your application, to follow up with you
after an interview and to make you an offer. This process almost always
takes longer than they think it will for a myriad of behind-the-scenes
reasons at the company. So when the employer says they'll make a
decision by the end of the week, it may take up to a month.
On the other hand, if you're asked to
send in references or samples of your work the next day. Do it the next
day. Candidates have to be on time and true to their word. Also, you can
wait too long to respond to a job offer. If you're waiting to hear from
another company or using the offer to renegotiate with your current job,
it can be rescinded. Employers are hiring because they have a talent
gap. They need the help and don't have time for candidates who string
them along. Job offers come with expiration dates.
In many ways, a job interview is like a date. After reviewing your
cover letter and resume and determining you have enough of the skills
and experience needed for the role, the hiring manager is interested in
getting to know you a little better. Through a series of questions,
interviewers want to learn about more than just your qualifications;
they're also looking to understand your thought process and personality
to determine if you're the right fit for their company. To uncover that,
interviewers will typically use three types of interview questions:
- Skills-based (hard & soft)
Let's take a closer look at what they are, why interviewers ask them
and how you should answer them.
These are designed to uncover what hard skills (teachable skills that
are easy to quantify — like technical skills) and soft skills
(subjective skills that are hard to quantify; people or interpersonal
skills — like teamwork) you can bring to the role.
Do you have experience designing and building pages in WordPress?
Have you managed a team before?
When answering skills-based questions, you want to inform the
interviewer of how much experience you have and provide examples of
projects you've worked on to illustrate the depth of your experience.
Talk about how you've executed on designs in WordPress, some of the
challenges that you've faced and how you've resolved them — give them
examples. Tell them about the number of years you've been a manager and
the number of people you've directly managed — or, if you haven't had a
chance to be a people manager yet, how you've led a cross-functional
team project in the past and how you successfully motivated the team to
deliver the project to completion.
By asking behavioural questions, interviewers want to hear you talk
about past experiences with the belief that this will indicate future
performance. They want to understand whether you have the required skill
or the right attitude.
Tell me about a time when you had to solve a difficult problem. What
did you do? What was the outcome?
Can you think of a time when you were not successful? What was the
situation? What did you learn from this experience?
A great approach to answering behavioural questions is to use the
- Begin by outlining the Situation you were facing
- Move on to identifying the
Task, or goal, you had to achieve
- Then discuss the Actions you took to help achieve your goal
- And finish with the end Result
Prepare by reviewing your past work experiences and lining up a few
short stories that highlight positive qualities that you would bring to
the organization. As an example:
S — We had an online tool that we were going to test by sending out
an email to 5,000 users inviting them to try the tool out.
T — We hoped to see users engage with the tool, measuring engagement
through the number of actions they took with it and through repeat
A — We tested the tool and tested the email. Everything looked good
and we deployed it to our 5,000 users, as planned.
R — After deployment, we realized that the page the tool sat on had
no tracking so we could not measure engagement or repeat visits to the
tool. After this, I designed a QA list which I shared with the team so
we could make sure nothing like this was missed again. The QA list is
now part of all projects on the team.
Similar to behavioural questions, situational questions can be
hypothetical and are meant to provide insight into your analytical and
problem-solving skills. They also give interviewers an opportunity to
see how you handle problems on the spot, without a lot of preparation
You disagree with the way your supervisor wants to handle a problem.
What would you do?
You have several projects on your plate with competing deadlines. How
do you prioritize? What do you do?
Because these questions may be hypothetical, even if you haven't
experienced the exact situation presented in the question, you must
still provide a response. Remember, interviewers want to understand your
approach, your thought process. So take your time and think it through.
And then clearly take the interviewer through the steps you would take
to solve the issue presented to you.
By understanding the motivations behind the types of interview
questions being asked, you'll be better prepared to provide the
information that interviewers are look for to determine whether you can
contribute to their organization's success. So go out there and rock
that next interview!
Written by Peter Harris
For many, the worst part of the job search is that awkward silence
after you've had a job interview when all you can do is wait for the
phone to ring. Have you ever thought that you absolutely nailed the
interview and still not gotten the call? I know I have, and the
disappointment can be crushing.
You wonder what it was that went wrong and if there was anything you
could have done differently. It would take some of the suspense out of
the waiting if you had some indication in advance of how good your
chances were. Well, fortunately there are some telltale signs during a
job interview that the employer just isn't that into you.
Someone once shared the story with me about an interview they
conducted where the potential employer wrote their name down at the top
of the page before beginning to ask questions. About halfway through the
interview, the employer proceeded to draw a line through the name. Ouch.
Most indications that your interview isn't going very well will be much
more subtle than this.
Here's what to watch for – and some strategies for repairing a bad
The interview seems disinterested. If the general tone of the
conversation just doesn't seem to go well, you could be in trouble. This
could mean that you've made a poor first impression and the interviewer
has already given you the thumbs down. It could also indicate that
another star candidate has already been selected, and so they're just
going through the motions with you.
They don't try to sell you on the company or job. Employers are happy
to hire new people; it's exciting to add members to the team. If they
like you and have decided that you might be 'the one,' they're going to
try to get you excited about taking on the role. They'll pitch the
benefits of working for the company and of the job. If the employer
makes no effort to convince you to want the job, they're probably not
The interview is short and sweet. Your interview only lasted a few
minutes and basically just covered the information listed in your
resume. You weren't asked any behavioural, hypothetical or mind-testing
questions. Great, that was easy! Actually, easy is bad. If the
interviewer doesn't ask you any challenging or probing questions, you're
likely not being seriously considered for the job.
Salary didn't come up at all — or seems to be an issue. Once an
employer has decided they want you, they have to see if they can afford
you. Usually at some point in the second half of a first job interview,
you'll be asked about your salary expectations. If this doesn't come up
at all, it could be a sign that it doesn't matter how much you'd like to
be paid, because you're not being hired.
Similarly, if the interviewer indicates that your going rate is
higher than they were expecting or had budgeted for the role, it could
be a deal breaker, unless you're prepared to negotiate.
The interviewer offers some friendly career advice. Sometime a nice
gesture can be the kiss of death. So if the employer kindly points out
some things you could do in order to be more qualified for the sort of
jobs that your applying for, it generally means that they don't think
you're there yet.
You aren't asked when you're available to start. Employers hire
people because they have work that needs doing. They need to know when
they can have the additional help coming in, and they'll need to get
everything set up for the new hire. If they show no interest in when
you're free to begin working for them, it can indicate that it's a moot
The interview ends with no mention of next steps. When things go
well, your job interview will end with a brief discussion of what the
next steps are. The employer will let you know if there's any work
samples they need or a follow-up interview with more people at the
company. At the very least they should give you a rough estimate of when
they expect to make a hiring decision.
If you leave the interview hearing, "Hey, thanks for coming in. Best
of luck with your job search." instead of discussing what comes next in
the hiring process, you're out.
They don't ask for references. If there is no follow-up interview
required, then the final step in the employee screening is usually to
check your references. If the employer doesn't schedule a future
appointment or show an interest in getting a list of references from
you, your candidacy probably ends there.
Possible remedies for a bad job interview:
Stay positive. Remain upbeat throughout the interview. If you don't
seem to be connecting with the employer at first, it can be discouraging
and take the wind out of your sails. But who knows what's going on in
the interviewer's head? Maybe they came in distracted, or you remind
them of someone they don't like. You have the next half an hour or so to
be interesting, confident and enthusiastic, and to turn that first
Be prepared to change tactics. If you've been talking at length all
about your accomplishments at one former employer — and these don't seem
to be resonating, switch it up. Talk about earlier jobs, how you chose
your career path, how what you learned in school connects to the
industry. You may need to find the anecdote that connects with the
interviewers own interests to break through the icy patch.
Ask questions. If the interview is winding down and it really doesn't
look like you've made the positive impression that you were hoping for,
you can always come right out and ask. “Does it seem like I'd be a good
fit for the role? Are there any concerns that I can address?” You may be
able to speak to a perceived weakness that the employer has, or you may
find out right then that you have no chance. It's still better than
waiting by the phone for a rejection later.
Make the most of your thank you note. Writing to you interviewer to
thank them for taking the time to meet with you is common courtesy. In
the event of a bad interview, it's also your last chance to repair that
first impression. Reiterate your enthusiasm for the role, and highlight
what your unique skillset can bring to it. Say that you'd be happy to
meet again to discuss some ideas you have for being successful on the
job. Wish them luck with their hiring.
At the very least you'll come across as someone who is passionate
about the job, confident in your ability to do it, and friendly and
polite at all times. If you're not hired, you'll still be leaving behind
a positive professional impression. And in many industries, your
professional reputation is currency on the job market.
By Richard Gilbert
The BC Ready-Mixed Concrete Association (BCRMCA) is planning to
launch a new competency certification system for operators of concrete
pump trucks after completing a pilot program to develop testing
procedures on construction sites.
Currently, there is no requirement in BC for operators of a
concrete pumper truck to receive training or certification. Anyone with
a Class III truck driver's license can lease any size or configuration
of a concrete pump, drive it off the lot and start pumping, without any
sort of training or testing of competence
The BCRCMA released a report in June 2016 outlining the results of
the pilot program, which consisted of 23 practical assessments of
concrete pump operators on five equipment categories:
- low pressure line pump, below 1,231 psi;
- high pressure line pump, above 1,231 psi;
- truck mounted — boom, 41 metres and under;
- truck mounted — boom, over 41 metres; and
- tower placing boom.
The daily workflow of these categories was identified to test the
knowledge and performance of each potential candidate. In particular,
assessments were designed for the assessor to observe an operator on an
actual job site, while setting up to pump concrete, pumping concrete,
cleaning up and finally washing out.
Candidates will be required to complete a recognized Pump Operator
Safety Training course and pass a written theory exam before taking the
new competency assessment for Pump Operator Certification.
The pilot program has gathered enough information to develop a
business model for industry to review and approve, which outlines the
cost and terms of delivery for operator assessment in BC.
The report concludes that the assessment can be delivered
economically if the industry co-operates in the scheduling of jobs for
the assessor. However, only one assessment can be conducted by each
assessor during each day.
The BCRMCA has decided not to proceed with tower placing boom
competence certification at this time after the trial assessment
revealed the complexity of the use of a placing boom on a work site.
"These tests were completed, but the difficulty is that tower placing
booms require a consensus among general contractors, engineers, pump
operators and placers about best practices," said Kelly. "Our
recommendation here is to take that out until we come up with best
practices, due to its complexity."
In this case, more consultation is required to understand the scope
of responsibility in terms of delivery system inspection and clean out
The new concrete pump operator standards in BC were developed by
looking at standards in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the
United States and Canada.
As a result of this research, it was concluded that the best option
was to combine two different sets of standards developed in Canada.
The first standard was developed through industry consultation by the
Construction Sector Council in 2005, while the second standard was
developed by the Ontario College of Trades in 2014.
The latter standard is used to govern Ontario apprenticeship
Concrete pumping can be one of the most dangerous activities on any
construction site, states WorkSafeBC.
Written by Kay Benedek
Let's face it — offices are rarely peaceful places at the best of
times, but they are even less so when you happen to be an introvert.
With open plan offices becoming more and more common, it's getting
increasingly difficult to find personal space or quiet time at work.
This might be just fine for the extroverts who tend to draw their energy
from social situations. However, introverts prefer space and alone time
to recharge their batteries and focus on work, making these busy
environments an everyday challenge. Some offices just aren't built for
introverts. The good news is that they can learn to work within them. If
you're an introvert who works among the hustle and bustle of a busy
office space, we've put together some tips and tricks for finding your
focus among office chaos so you can truly thrive within it.
Make your space your own
Whether you have an office, a cubical, or a shared desk, it's
important to make your workspace a retreat from your busy office life.
Cover it with plants, put up pictures of loved ones, whatever you need
to bring you peace and make you feel like you're in your comfort zone.
Manage your social obligations
Try not to overburden yourself with too many planned social
commitments. There will be times when unexpected networking events or
late nights with coworkers are unavoidable. Schedule plenty of downtime
for yourself throughout your week so you can be recharged and ready to
go when you need to be.
Find some private time
Go for a walk, grab a cup of coffee, or if possible, work from a home
every now and again. Sometimes, you just need a minute or two to
Book small meeting rooms for only yourself
Take the opportunity to work in peace whenever possible. Book small
meeting rooms when they're not in use so you can concentrate and get
your work done.
Invest in a good pair of headphones
Whether you're playing your favourite tunes or just blocking out the
world, a good pair of noise-canceling headphones can help you not only
find some peace in a busy office but also show your coworkers that
you're not open to conversation.
Come in earlier or stay later
Take advantage of the quiet times at the office. These moments to
yourself will be some of your most valuable moments for your work
Make a daily habit of checking in with your coworkers
This might sound counter-intuitive, but checking in with your
colleagues every morning will allow you to keep up with social
activities, while doing it on your own terms. It will also limit the
number of co-workers dropping by unexpected to say hello throughout the
day. Get your socializing out of the way so you can focus on work.
Create a privacy sign
It could be a 'Work in Progress' sign, a clever coffee cup, or red
light / green light system. Whatever it is, consider giving your
coworkers some kind of visual cue that you are hunkering down so they
can give you the peace you need.
Don't be shy about your skills and talents
It can be tough as an introvert to self-promote. Standing out is
something most introverts prefer not to do. However, you bring valuable
work skills to the office every day, and you deserve to be recognized
for it. Stand up for your skills and your ideas as often as you feel
Find the right office or company
Some introverts may be able to find their personal space in open plan
offices. Some may not. If you prefer a cubical or an office for more
private time, keep it in mind when interviewing and choosing jobs. Try
to find a company that best fits your needs.
Push yourself outside your comfort zone every now and again
Stay late for a drink at the office, speak up in a meeting,
self-promote your talents and skills. As an introvert, it can be easy to
stay back, stay quiet, and keep to yourself. But every now and again,
it's good to push ourselves outside our comfort zones. Just make sure
you take care of yourself so you're able to do so when it really