James Harvey: Mentoring in Skilled Trades only part of solution.

TORONTO (March 24, 2015)  In light of a recently announced Ontario mentorship program advancing Women in the Skilled and Professional Trades,  skilled trades veteran and mentor James Sidney Harvey says while the program will resonate benefits, it’s only part of the solution to a three-party equation.

“While mentorship is always a great investment into our skilled work force, it shines the light on only the employer’s role – There are actually three groups that affect the Value Skilled Trades and the Ontario economy: the Employer, the Skilled Trades Person and the Government.” he said. “Essentially, when one party isn’t fully participating, it brings progress to a halt.”

James is a journeyman Tool & Die maker who has over 30 years experience in the Skilled Trades and now trains, coaches and advises corporations on advancing Skilled Trades in Ontario.

In his new book, Seven Success Skills for Apprentices and Skilled Trades Persons, James puts the onus on the trades people themselves to contribute to their own talent pool.

“I’ve been on both sides of the mentor/mentee coin, and have learned that as a trade’s worker, you are only as valuable as your most transferrable skill set.”

James says the notion that training and mentorship is solely the corporation’s responsibility is a common, but dangerous misconception.

“Unfortunately, workers are at a disadvantage the minute they assume that they can rely on someone else to shore up their skill set.  Mentors are there to assist you in using the skills you have, but they can’t force you to have a vested interest in your role and where it could take you.”

In his book, Harvey urges skilled trade workers to wake up. He points out that corporate tides have shifted with smaller companies requiring multi-tasking staff to remain competitive and large companies hiring out temp and sub-contracts to avoid benefit costs.

“They don’t need you as much as you need them,” said Harvey. “Individually – if you get comfortable, if you aren’t contributing to value of your role, you’ll find yourself without a job in two to five years.”


Chapter 7 of his book explores transferrable skill sets and outlines how people’s skills may be more useful across multiple streams of employment than they originally may have thought.

“I want people to understand is that they are part of the SOLUTION rather than the problem.  If you can become a valuable component to your company, they won’t let you go unless they absolutely have to,” said James. “The lesson is, keep learning! Don’t expect to spend 3-5 years in your job and think you’ll know everything. If you are not adding value to that company – they aren’t going to keep you. They can’t afford to.”