Trade Profile – Ironworker
What does it take to be an ironworker?
Over the next ten years, it is estimated that over 261,100 tradespeople will retire in Canada, while only 221,300 will enter the field, resulting in a significant loss of skilled workers. In addition, due to the aging population, the overall number of people who are considered to be in their working prime (age 25-54) is expected to decline. These factors will make it increasingly difficult to replenish the retiring workforce.
In response to the anticipated shortage of skilled apprentices, the construction industry has developed several initiatives, opportunities, and grants to encourage youth, women, the indigenous population, and other groups to consider a career in the skilled trades. Alongside various partners, CLAC has become increasingly involved in promoting the skilled trades as a rewarding career option, while simultaneously looking for new ways to support industry and workers alike.
Over the next year, we will share a variety of trades-related blogs here on Your Voice. We will highlight in-demand trades by providing you with a snap shot of their education requirements, average salary, and employment outlook.
This month’s highlighted trade is ironworker.
Are you comfortable with heights? Do you want to specialize in metalwork? You might want to consider a career as an ironworker. CLAC represents various contractors who employ ironworkers. Journeyperson wages can range from $30 to $40 per hour, on average, plus additional benefits.
Overall, the ironworker trade is physically demanding. Workers must be able to work at heights; have the strength and stamina to lift items weighing in excess of 25 kg; and possess excellent muscular coordination, agility, and balance. To be successful in the trade, ironworkers must also have the ability to interpret blueprints, understand and execute safe work practices, and be willing to travel to various work sites.
There are three branches of the trade that ironworkers can choose to specialize in.
Ironworker – Metal Building Systems Erector
Metal building systems erectors fabricate, construct, and join scaffolding. They are limited to working on two-story steel-framed metal buildings, generally referred to as pre-engineered buildings. Ironworkers under this specialization must complete two twelve-month periods of training, each of which includes 1,500 hours of on-the-job-training and six weeks of technical training.
Ironworker – Reinforcing
Ironworker-reinforcing tradespeople place and tie reinforcing material, join scaffolding, and perform post tensioning. Ironworkers who fall under this specialization are required to complete two twelve-month periods of training, each of which includes 1,500 hours of on-the-job-training and six weeks of technical training.
Ironworker – Structural and Ornamental
Structural/ornamental ironworkers fabricate, construct, and join scaffolding, structural steel buildings, bridges, ornamental ironwork, and pre-cast structures. They erect structural steel components, install conveyors and robotic equipment, and sometimes perform reconstructive work on existing structures. Ironworkers under this specialization are required to complete three twelve-month periods of training, each of which includes 1,500 hours of on-the-job-training and six weeks of technical training.
It is predicted by BuildForce Canada’s 2019 Construction and Maintenance Outlook report for Alberta that in 2020, “Workers meeting the employer qualifications are generally not available in local markets to meet any increase. Employers will need to compete to attract additional workers. Recruiting and mobility may extend beyond traditional sources and practices.” While 2020 is the forecasted peak shortage for skilled ironworkers, the demand remains relatively consistent up until 2028, maintaining a steady need for skilled apprentices and journeypersons to continue working in the trade.
Interested in the skilled trades? Contact your CLAC Training Team for support in navigating the apprenticeship pathway, assistance in enrolling in technical training, and information regarding student funding.