We Need Your Skills
Spring 2018

It has been a much discussed topic as parents sit with their children and help them decide what career path they should follow. Historically some of the choices would be doctor, lawyer, physiotherapist, dentist, teacher, nurse, computer expert, etc., and of course with the right program and some hard work all of these remain as possibilities with rewarding experiences and good pay. Another career stream that historically is less promoted is the pursuit of a trade or designation in the more practical hands-on sector.

Today, considering a career in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, horticulture, landscape construction, stonework, bricklaying, arboriculture or forestry, mechanics, etc. are all very good choices depending of course on your own personal interests. The interesting thing about all these trades and career options is that there are elements of computer science and technology involved in each of them as the tools of the trade advance. Most of this stream of careers is not confined to an office, but rather occur in outside environments on residential and commercial sites. Also, depending on whether you wish to own your own business or not, you will learn how to manage and administer that business as well. Whether you choose to own and manage your own business or become a professionally trained practitioner you have many options available to you.

Choosing a hands-on trade or professionally designated profession has many rewards. One of the biggest attributes of these choices is the ability to work outside, often year round, depending on the company, with good pay and working conditions. Yes it is true that some days can be hot, cold, rainy, snowy and windy, however with the right tools, personal protective equipment, training, and health and safety regulations to protect you, your experience can be a positive one.

The personal satisfaction of being able to beautify a home or commercial establishment, construct a building or shelter, plant trees, shrubs and flowers, build an interlock patio, driveway or retaining wall, allows you to drive home at the end of the day feeling a healthy tired, and a sense of pride in making a difference in your community. Being physically active, using your brain, meeting with clients, using ever improving products and technology all add up to a positive rewarding career choice. And let us not forget, a healthy paycheque as well.

There are so many of these types of career choices out there that combine physical activity with technical knowledge and expertise. If you are currently in a career stream and would like to make a change, I would strongly urge you to look at the many different opportunities to advance your skills through training being offered by colleges and associations like Landscape Ontario, Ontario Parks Association, International Society of Arboriculture, and Green Roofs for Healthy Cities to name a few.

The construction sector is always looking for licensed carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, roofers, framers and concrete finishers, while our parks and horticulture sector are always looking for gardeners, equipment operators, horticulturalists, turf specialists, and skilled personnel to do hardscaping, xeriscaping, landscaping, pruning, planting ball diamond maintenance, and of course, all aspects of green infrastructure maintenance.

There are also some specialty areas where skilled and well-trained staff are needed including, food production, indoor plant care, green roofs, living walls, permeable paving and surfaces, storm water management systems, invasive species management, and of course, low impact development methods.

One of the challenging issues facing the workplace today is the retirement of many seasoned and experienced workers who leave big shoes to fill at both the municipal and private sector levels. Unfortunately many municipalities and companies are getting caught unaware that their succession planning may not be adequate, therefore many job openings become available to properly trained and qualified professionals. This is exactly where you want to be, so you can, with your experience, training, qualifications and enthusiasm be able to step in to these many vacancies.

So take a proactive approach to your career and step slightly out of your comfort zone and acquire the new skills needed to take advantage of the many opportunities that await you. Choosing a career in any of the fields where you can be outside, physically active and contribute to a better place for all of us to live, will give you great satisfaction and offer you a good solid living.

Many thanks to STIHL Canada for supplying state of the art tools which allow us to not only be productive, but benefit from their investment in new technologies and ergonomics. These investments have resulted in a cleaner environment, safer workplace and a brand that can be trusted across the industry.

Thank you STIHL and your network of staff who continue to help us deliver our mandate of Protecting Tomorrow Today®.

Ontario Parks Association

by Paul Ronan
Executive Director, Ontario Parks Association