How New Graduates Can Shift Toward A Career In Skilled Trades


In some cases, graduating students find themselves in situations where their career interests change or they find that the degree or diploma they acquired isn’t exactly enough to get them an ideal job.

When faced with these challenges, some students may find themselves looking into shifting toward a career in skilled trades.

For recent grads who are thinking about stepping into a specialized industry that demands a variety of skills and knowledge qualities, there are a few major starting points that every potential candidate should consider first.

Explore jobs in skilled trades and find out what you need to know

Knowing exactly where to start is not always easy, especially when recent grades aren’t quite familiar with the technical aspects of a particular industry or job. A good place to start would be the Skills Canada website.

Skills Canada has section on their website labeled Careers that offers its visitors a straightforward outline of information including traits and talents, workplace qualities and related occupations for a variety of skilled trades in industries like construction, information technology, manufacturing, engineering, services and transportation.

You can use the Careers tab to navigate through skilled trades and figure out which jobs suits you best. There’s also a convenient Employment sub-tab under Careers that offers helpful information on job interviewing, job skill demonstration, prepared speech and workplace demonstration related to skilled trades.

Skills Canada also holds an annual Skilled Trades & Technology Week event, which gives organizations the opportunity to raise awareness of skilled trades and technology to students, their parents and the general public. The event involves interactive student skills demonstrations and activities, which are held all across Canada.

To find out about upcoming events in your area, you can contact your Skills Canada Provincial or Territorial office.

Evaluate trade certification requirements in your province

Transitioning toward a job in skilled trades means making a commitment to acquiring the appropriate trade certification for your new career.

Once you’ve gathered enough information a particular skilled trades job of interest, the next step is to identify what Certificate of Qualification you’ll need to pursue, which will vary from industry to industry and from province to province.

A certificate proves that you have passed a provincial qualification exam, completed an apprenticeship contract, met the minimum industry standards for training time, and/or acquired relevant experience as a skilled worker.

Not all trades require certification. If you don’t know where to look, you can start by contacting your province’s Department of Education to find out what certification requirements you need for the skilled trades job of your choice, or by visiting the Red Seal program website.

Service Canada recommends that you check out the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program, which represents ‘industry’s recognition of an interprovincial standard of excellence for the skilled trade,’ according to the Red Seal program website.

Apprentices who have completed their training may decide to pursue a Red Seal endorsement on their Certificate of Qualification after successfully completing an interprovincial Red Seal exam.

The Red Seal program encourages agreement between provincial training and certification with the development of interprovincial standards of qualification. There are over 50 trades in the Red Seal program. You can learn more at

Take advantage of available grants, bursaries and scholarships

For recent graduates who are thinking about pursuing an apprenticeship, grants up to $4,000 are available to compensate for apprenticeship tuition, travel, tools and other expenses.

Apprenticeship Incentive Grant (AIG): This taxable cash grant offers apprentices $1,000 per year or per level up to a maximum of $2,000 and is ideal for helping Red Seal candidates get started.

Apprenticeship Completion Grant (ACG): This taxable cash grant offers apprentices who have completed their training become certified in their desired Red Seal trades position. This grant is $2,000.

As an apprentice, you may also be eligible to receive financial support through Employment Insurance (EI) during training periods. You can also visit the Canada Revenue Agency website to find out how you may be able to deduct certain tools you bought as part of your apprentice requirements.

Search for work in all the right places

Once you’ve chosen a position to pursue in skilled trades and acquired the corresponding Certificate of Qualification, you can start looking for work.

If you need more information on required skills in the workplace of your choice, you can browse through the essential skills profiles for your job from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada.

Of course, you are also encouraged to network with other professionals in your industry to increase your chances of getting hired.

It may seem intimidating at first, but by pursuing a job in skilled trades, you may be presented with more career opportunities, better pay and a rewarding new career with the fulfillment and respect that you deserve.

Visit TalentEgg’s Skilled Trades Career Guide for eggs-clusive student and entry level Skilled Trades jobs plus articles and videos to help you hatch your career.

About the author

Elise Moreau is a Toronto-based tech and social media columnist, blogger, copywriter, and small business marketing consultant who has dedicated her entire educational career to small business management and marketing. In 2009, she graduated from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology with a bachelor of commerce degree in business and information technology before going on to earn a post-graduate degree from George Brown College in small business entrepreneurship in 2011. Since then, she's learned how to incorporate her business and technology background into her passion for writing.