November 19th, 2021
How the soft skills help students find a great career in the trades
The day starts like every other day for Pete the plumber. He’s part of a group of tradespeople who are doing a pretty significant home renovation. Today it’s time for him to hook up the sink in the bathroom. He spent last week reviewing the blueprints and yesterday picked up all his supplies.
But when he gets to the job site, there’s a problem – the framer had to work around rotten studs in the existing wall and after he built the wall, and the drywaller put the boards up before Pete could put the pipes in. On top of that, the electrician now needs space to install a new light that the homeowner just requested. And the whole job is on a tight budget and needs to be competed in three days.
Fortunately, Peter – as well as the other tradespersons – have developed the skills needed to tackle situations like this. First, the whole team met together and each of them proposed different ideas. Soon, they came up with a solution and developed a plan to see it through. It required some adjustments to the budget, but the team also adjusted the workflow to ensure the entire project will be completed on-time and on-budget. Erica the electrician explained the situation and the solution to the homeowner, who was pleased to hear things were resolved so quickly and completely.
Besides the technical skills that are specific to their field, tradespeople also have the “soft” skills that are needed on the job site everyday. Pete, Erica and the others are problem solvers, able to think on their feet and adapt to the “things” that always come up. They need to communicate clearly with one another, their employers and clients. And they need to keep in mind factors such as budgets and timelines.
Those skills are developed in part through the hands-on teaching that is part of the experiential learning programs offered by the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB). Being on the job site, students see first-hand what tradespeople and others deal with, and how to solve problems as they arise.
Talk to the guidance staff at your school to see how Cooperative Education, internships and other out-of-the-classroom opportunities can help you develop these soft skills.
They are every bit as important as the technical skills you need to land a great job in the trades.