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Civic Impact

Tune In, Trade Up: Are skilled trades music to young people's ears?

Skilled tradespeople such as electricians and carpenters are an integral part of any music festival.

The sentence “I want to work in the music industry” might make parents and guidance counsellors cringe; for Sherri Haigh, those words are music to her ears. The Ontario College of Trades has recently launched their Tune In, Trade Up campaign, encouraging young people to consider skilled trades as a backstage pass into the music industry. “Skilled trades people play a big role in the music industry, and the music industry is a big driver for the province’s economy,” Haigh says.

The campaign—which highlights trades like hairdressing, cooking, carpentry, and more—also seeks to correct the coming skills deficit. Haigh cites a study by the Conference Board of Canada saying there will be a shortage of 360,00 skilled tradespeople in Canada by 2025. Part of the campaign’s goals, she says, is reframing the trades as a viable and exciting option for young people and those considering a second career. “The trades have generally been ignored for years, and it’s darn well about time that we give them the credit and respect they deserve. The campaign may influence them to reconsider a career in the trades. It’s a career to be proud of.”

For this campaign, the College has partnered with the WayHome Festival, the Boots and Hearts festival, and bands such as the Road Hammers and Hedley. As a result, Haigh says that they’ve received over one hundred emails from young people who want to learn more. “We’re seeing direct engagement, which is really exciting.” Their YouTube video is also designed to appeal to music fans: action shots of screaming fans are intercut with heartfelt thank-yous to skilled tradespeople from musicians and festival organizers.

For Haigh, the possibility of Tune In, Trade Up doesn’t end when the crowd goes home. “It doesn’t have to be in the music industry. That just gets them in the door. Then they can see that there are so many great jobs out there. It’s a hook to get them in.”
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