Monthly Archives: July 2021

Math and the Skilled Trades

Measurement tools including a tape measureIn addition to the well-known trades of plumber, electrician and carpenter, the skilled trades also include hairdresser, baker, child and youth worker, educational assistant, roofer, heavy equipment operator, machinist and drywall finisher.

These are just a few of the 144 skilled trades in Ontario.

Although these trades are very different, they have one thing in common – they all need the people in the field to have some math skills.

To see a full list of the 144 skilled trades visit this Explore the Trades page.  You can also learn more about the trades at the Apprentice Search website.  

Math Skills Needed in the Trades

Below you will find a list of some of the math skills needed in the trades.

  • Complete measurements
    • Distance, pressure, tolerances, temperatures, volume, quantities, perimeters
  • Assess angles
  • Read gauges
  • Read blueprints
  • Mix chemicals
  • Set prices
  • Complete estimates and invoices
  • Manage stock
  • Take orders
  • Set budgets
  • Track statistics

For a detailed list of the math skills needed in the trades, visit the foundations section of this Trades – Math document.

Don’t worry if it has been a while since you were in a math class or you have realized you are not familiar with everything on this list.  Contact any of the free adult upgrading, and training programs for help.

Trades Assessment

3D drawing of a hoursOur adult training and upgrading programs offer assessments to help you pick the skills you need to focus on to get you where you want to go in the trades.

The federal government also has a free online self-assessment.  It is called ‘Essential Skills Self-Assessment for the Trades‘.

The math section of this self-assessment will give you another list of the math skills needed in the trades.

This assessment includes measurement (metric / imperial), dimensions (area or volume), estimates (time, distance, volume or quantity), ratios and proportions (using scale drawings) and geometry (calculate slopes or elevation).

If you complete this assessment and feel like you might need assistance, contact an adult training program in your area.  We can help with training or a math refresher.

Free Adult Training and Upgrading

Adult training and upgrading programs can help you develop the core math skills needed to work in any trade.

We make sure you have the base you need so you are ready to learn trade specific math once you are in an apprenticeship, training program or when you need to learn on-the-job.

Adult training and upgrading programs are for people who are:

  • thinking about working in a trade
  • working in a trade
  • registered as an apprentice 
  • preparing for the Certificate of Qualification (CofQ) exam

We can help you pinpoint the skills you need to develop for the trade you are interested in, which means your training will be customized, short and focused.

Workbooks

There are free workbooks available online.  Below you will find two available through the Canadian Government.  

A free trades-math workbook:

A free Essential Skills workbook for the trades:

If you are working through these workbooks and find you have questions or would like some support, we can help.  

Contact Us

triangle, circle, measurements on purple backgroundContact any of our programs to find out how we can help you move successfully into a skilled trade or do well in your current apprenticeship.

For a list of services in the Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough, Northumberland and Hastings visit our programs page.  Or contact Carrie Wakeford at or 705 313-4385.

To find a program in other areas of Ontario, visit the Learning Networks of Ontario website.


 

Digital Skills in the Skilled Trades

three smart phones and a computerTradespeople, employers and educators all agree that the most important emerging skill in the trades are digital skills. This was confirmed through research done by the Conference Board of Canada and Future Skills. For the details, see the report ‘Bridging Generational Divides: Advancing Digital Skills in Canada’s Apprenticeship and Skilled Trades Ecosystem’ (September 2020).

The demand for digital skills in the trades can be seen throughout Canada and around the world. The report identified that:

“Tradespeople will need seven core digital skills: technical, information management, digital communication, virtual collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving in digital environments.” (Bridging Generational Divides, Page 9)

Adult Training and Upgrading

Adult training and upgrading programs in Ontario, also known as Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS), have seen a growth in the demand for digital skills over the years. During the pandemic, we saw the need for digital literacy skills skyrocket as everything moved online. People needed digital skills to do everyday things such as apply for financial support, communicate with their doctor or get their kids online for school. For apprentices this meant having the skills to register online, complete training, and communicate with employers digitally.

Adult training and upgrading programs in Ontario responded to the increased need for digital literacy training by developing and offering additional online and in-person training programs, including Zoom training. We want to make sure people have the skills they need to succeed in meeting their career and educational goals, including individuals preparing to start an apprenticeship.

Pre- and Post-Apprenticeship Training Options

Electrician looking at a panelAdult training and upgrading programs support people who are thinking about entering the skilled trades, including those in pre-apprenticeship programs. Additionally, we offer help to those already registered as an apprentice but who need a bit of extra support with things such as digital literacy, math and communication skills. We are also known for being able to help people prepare for success with their Certificate of Qualification (C of Q) exams.

We can also support those currently in a trade, but who might be thinking about leaving because they don’t have the core skills they need for success at the moment. With a little help, they can succeed. In this way, LBS programs can help with retention in the trades which will go a long way in improving the completion rates.

Digital Technology in the Trades: Examples

The “Bridging Generational Divides” report identifies areas where digital technology is being used in the automotive, manufacturing and food service industries, but their findings can be applied to all trades. For example, the need for computers, tablets, smartphones, apps, and handheld devices is found in all the trades to some degree.

The paper captured many examples of the growing need for digital skills in the trades, including:

  • installing and operating machines and equipment
  • using diagnostic and monitoring tools
  • programming
  • reading digital blueprints
  • completing quality control
  • digital measurement
  • communicating and sharing information with customers, trainers and other trades people (e.g. email, text, Microsoft Teams and Zoom)
  • receiving online work orders, and product and service orders from customers
    placing orders for parts and supplies
  • invoicing.

laptop with diagram of buildingFinally, there is a need for information management skills, including accessing forums for troubleshooting support and for finding information, manuals and training online.

In the ‘Bridging Generational Divides’ report you will find Table 1 ‘Impact of digitalization on the trades‘ which includes a list of ‘Skills needed to adapt to future work trends’.

An EdCan Network article ‘Skilled Trades in the Digital Age‘ provides even more examples of digital skills and tools in the trades. It includes GPS-guided excavation on construction sites and in resource extraction, accessing information on tablets, such as schematic drawings, as well as scheduling and invoicing software. It provides an example were technology can be found in equipment including heavy haulers.

They “have a tremendous number of sensors that collect data about everything from how hard the equipment is hitting bumps, to how inflated the tires are and where the bumps are located so the road can actually be fixed.”

Generational Divide

The need for digital skills is an significant development in the trades. It is made even more significant because it is being embraced at different rates. The “Bridging Generational Divides” study found that apprentices may be more open to using digital technology than a journeyperson.

For example, one of the challenges going forward will be the apprentices’ preference for text and email and a journeypersons’ preference for in person and phone discussions.

Training

Cell phone apps with hand toolsThere is a need for strong foundational skills in digital literacy for those considering a career in the skilled trades; however, there is also a need to support those already in the trades. For example, LBS can help to provide training to address the intergenerational communication differences identified in the report, such as email and text communication.

In our programs, we begin by measuring the individuals’ current skills so we can work with them to design a customized training program that will help them build on their current computer, communication and math skills. Some people come in for a refresher while others are looking to develop new skills. We create an individual plan that fits their needs and schedule including offering one-on-one, group or online training.

What was also clear in the report was the clear link between soft skills and digital skills. This includes communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. LBS programs have been recognized over the years for providing the opportunity to develop these soft skills which further prepares people for work in the trades.

Adult training and upgrading programs provide the base skills so that people in the trades have the foundation and confidence needed to learn the digital tools and software specific to their industry.

Recommendations

The ‘Bridging Generational Divides’ report concludes with a list of next steps for addressing labour and digital skills shortages. They include recommendations for employers, tradespeople, training providers, unions, and governments. To see the list of recommendations, visit page 27 of the report.

Contact Us

We recommend reaching out to any of our adult training programs located throughout Ontario to ask how we can help support the development of foundational digital literacy skills needed in all jobs, including the skilled trades.

For a list of services in the LOCS region, including Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough, Northumberland and Hastings, visit our programs page or contact Carrie Wakeford at

To find a program in other areas of Ontario visit the Learning Networks of Ontario website for help finding a program in your region.