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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Contractors and Supervisors, Metal Forming, Shaping and Erecting Trades (7201)

This unit group includes sheet metal, ironwork, welding and boilermaking trade contractors who own and operate their own businesses. This group also includes supervisors who supervise and coordinate the activities of workers classified in the following unit groups; Sheet Metal Workers (7261), Boilermakers (7262), Structural and Platework Fabricators and Fitters (7263), Ironworkers (7264), Welders and Related Machine Operators (7265) and Blacksmiths and Die Setters (7266). They are employed by structural, platework and related metal products fabrication, manufacturing and erecting companies.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read instructions, precautions and other short comments on work orders, drawings and product specification forms. For example, supervisors of boilermakers read instructions on scale drawings to learn where to mount anchors on expansion tanks. (1)
  • Read instructions for use and storage on product labels, packaging and information sheets. (1)
  • Read memos from general managers, building superintendents and general contractors to learn about work schedules, personnel changes, new job orders and changes to operating procedures. (2)
  • Read resumes and performance reviews to learn about the skills and attributes of job candidates and the performance and work habits of existing employees. (2)
  • Read about new products and equipment in marketing brochures and catalogues. For example, they may scan catalogues and brochures from equipment suppliers to learn about specialized tube expanders or low emission, high efficiency boilers. (2)
  • Read trade magazines such as Home Builder and the Canadian Welding Journal to learn about applications for new products and production. They read articles to get technical information on topics such as the causes of cold cracking in steel welds. (3)
  • Review regulations and acts published by employment standards branches. For example, they may read relevant sections of employment standards regulations to learn about general holidays and general holiday pay exemptions. (3)
  • May read collective agreements to understand their roles and responsibilities as supervisors and contractors. They read these documents to understand a broad range of topics such as grievance procedures, pay scales, hours of work and required safety protocols. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Observe icons and warnings posted at factories, workshops and construction sites to learn about hazards such as excessive noise and proximity to dangerous equipment, gases and high tension wires. (1)
  • Scan product lists to locate identification numbers, quantities, descriptions, dimensions and unit costs for parts, materials and supplies. For example, sheet metal contractors review price lists to locate costs and part numbers for prefabricated elbows, saddles, ducts, dampers and vents. (2)
  • Scan graphs and tables to locate production data such as quantities of materials used and numbers of parts produced and statistics such as percentage waste and production time per unit. For example, supervisors of welders and related machine operators review production statistics to locate product defect rates. (2)
  • Fill in entry forms and complete checklists to record operational and financial data. For example, sheet metal contractors complete estimates and order forms to record customer contact information, completion and delivery dates, product and project specifications and materials and supplies needed. Supervisors of structural and platework fabricators complete forms to record hours worked, production achieved, defects detected and unusual problems encountered. Metal framing contractors complete invoices to charge for services performed. (2)
  • May review assembly drawings to learn how to install equipment such as boilers, furnaces and diffusers. (2)
  • Review process schematics to understand operating processes. For example, supervisors of boilermakers scan schematic diagrams to determine the flow of gases and fluids through boiler systems. Heat, ventilation and air conditioning contractors review schematic diagrams to troubleshoot problems caused by faulty components such as transformers, thermostats, multi-speed motors and pressure switches. (3)
  • Locate the dimensions of parts and the location of fixtures, supports and openings and other data in complex scale drawings. For example, metal erecting contractors use three-dimensional drawings, roof framing drawings and bracing and elevation drawings to pinpoint the locations of beams, columns, and ceiling joists. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractors use sets of construction drawings to locate the required length of ducts and the locations and dimensions of dampers, diffusers, and vents. They may take data from thirty or more different views when carrying out complex mechanical system installations. (4)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write short notes, memos and logbook entries to record observations such as the locations of safety hazards at construction sites and the main points of discussion with workers and clients. For example, a metal erecting contractor may note that employees have requested the purchase of grinding disks. (1)
  • Write short comments on forms to inform owners, general managers and customers about changes to designs and construction problems encountered. For example, supervisors of structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters may note the reasons for changing fabrication plans on defect tally forms. (2)
  • Write short disciplinary reports to describe employees' job performance problems. They offer their observations of problem behaviours, outline meetings held to discuss these behaviours with employees and steps taken to prevent recurrence. (3)
  • Write short reports to describe workplace accidents and to discuss particular operational matters. For example, they may write reports that summarize monthly production statistics or accident reports that describe the events leading up to accidents and the steps taken afterwards. (3)
  • May write letters and short proposals in which they describe and promote their products and services. For example, sheet contractors may solicit work by writing letters of introduction to general contractors and building superintendents. In these letters, they outline their skills and capabilities, list trade qualifications and provide contact information for references. (3)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Calculate invoice amounts and verify invoice totals. For example, metal erection and sheet metal contractors calculate invoices by charging for the number of hours worked, the materials and supplies used and by including provisions for profit and applicable taxes. (3)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Establish maintenance and replacement schedules for equipment. They consider usage, the age of the equipment, extremes of temperature and manufacturers' recommendations to determine maintenance intervals and dates. (2)
  • May compare the cost of equipment, materials and services from different suppliers, in different quantities and packaging and with different delivery and assembly options. For example, sheet metal contractors compare the costs to fabricate ductwork systems, including labour, materials and lost opportunity costs, to the cost of purchasing prefabricated components to determine which option generates the greatest profit. (3)
  • May establish bids, quotes and operating budgets for large scale construction projects worth millions of dollars. They forecast costs for labour, capital equipment, maintenance, materials, parts and supplies and build in profit margins. They have to be precise in their calculations because established budgets, bids and quotes are often binding. (3)
  • Create and modify production schedules to ensure the timely and efficient completion of projects. They consider time intervals, lead times and legal requirements for hours worked to organize workers time and job tasks. They also plan work around vacations, holidays and potential disruptions caused by weather, illness, equipment breakdowns or the delayed delivery of materials and supplies. (4)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure angles, temperatures, pressures and distances using a variety of measuring tools such as digital protractors, magnetic protractors, angle finders, sliding squares, thermometers, temperature sticks, thermocouples, gauges, rulers and tapes. (1)
  • Convert the measuring units of dimensions, capacities and air flows. For example, heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractors use formulas and tools such as ductulators to convert airflow measurements from cubic feet per minute to cubic litres per minute. (2)
  • Calculate the required quantities of materials such as bolts, rivets, rebar, welding rods and sheet metal needed for construction jobs. For example, heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractors determine the total area of sheet metal needed for duct systems by adding together the areas needed for the various sub assemblies and then adding a few percent for wastage. (2)
  • May take precise measurements of shaped metal products and features such as bolt holes using micrometers and callipers. (3)
  • May lay out the materials needed to fabricate products using geometric construction methods. For example, contractors fabricating ductwork use geometric construction methods to construct complex sheet metal pieces such as cones and elbows. (4)
  • May use equations found in handbooks and tools such as ductulators to calculate angles, air flows, volumes and the areas of spiral staircases. For example, formulas are used by boilermaking trade contractors to calculate the capacities of boilers and fuel tanks; and by supervisors of fabricating metal workers to calculate the area for runs on spiral staircases. (4)
Data Analysis Math
  • Compare measurements of angles, temperatures, operating pressures, dimensions and elevations to specifications. (1)
  • Compare production statistics to projected activity levels and estimates. For example, metal erecting contractors compare the actual number of columns installed per day to projected installation rates to determine whether deadlines will be met. (1)
  • Calculate production statistics such as the average number of parts fabricated per hour, wastage per sheet or products rejected per shift. For example, a supervisor of blacksmiths may calculate the average number of gates and railings each worker can produce daily. (2)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the length of time it will take for workers to complete tasks. They consider the tasks being carried out, the experience levels of workers and time it took complete similar tasks in the past. (1)
  • Estimate the length of time it will take to complete projects and production runs. They estimate the amount of time each project phase will take by considering lead times and the availability of labour, equipment, parts, materials and supplies. They also factor the time previously taken to complete similar project phases and make allowances as warranted for disruptions caused by weather, breakdowns or illness. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • May listen to and leave voicemail messages and make announcements over public address systems. For example, metal erecting contractors may leave telephone messages with clients to provide pricing and scheduling details. (1)
  • Meet employees and co-workers to exchange information about job tasks, schedules, work loads and safety protocols. For example, supervisors of welding machine operators instruct employees on accepted methods for cleaning worksites after their work is completed. Supervisors of structural and platework fabricators discuss delivery schedules with account managers. (1)
  • Meet suppliers, clients, colleagues, engineers, safety codes officers, general contractors and building superintendents to discuss topics such as project and product specifications, installation processes, timelines, regulatory and reporting requirements and worksite hazards. For example, metal erecting contractors talk to engineers to confirm the spacing and placement of columns and beams. (2)
  • Explain work procedures to employees and show them how to avoid errors. For example, welding supervisors provide welders with step-by-step instructions for reducing cold metal cracking. (2)
  • Discuss problems such as poor quality work, tardiness and failure to follow instructions with employees. They ask open-ended questions to identify the cause of the problem behaviours, clarify expectations, discuss strategies and collaborate on solutions to improve performance. (3)
  • May negotiate concessions, project extensions, timelines, and payment schedules with managers, clients, general contractors and building superintendents. They provide details in support of their position while listening and responding to the views of others. (3)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Find that employees do not follow work procedures and safety protocols such as wearing required personal protective equipment like safety boots, gloves, visors and hard hats. They talk with employees about the problems and risks caused by their actions and outline the consequences should corrective steps not be taken. (2)
  • Discover that conflicts between workers are slowing production and creating hazards. They reprimand the workers who are responsible and provide mediation to resolve conflicts. (2)
  • Have clients who change specifications after projects have started. They determine the extent of the changes, request additional drawings if needed and renegotiate timelines and budgets. (2)
  • Reject or have work rejected because it does not meet specifications due to faulty parts, materials or workmanship. For example, sheet metal contractors are required to replace and reinstall duct systems when the gauge of metal used did not meet building codes regulations. Supervisors of welding machine operators reject improperly sized parts that did not meet product specifications. They determine contributing factors such as the use of incorrect materials, initiate corrective actions to minimize lost production and take steps to ensure similar problems do not occur. (2)
  • Cannot meet deadlines or accept additional work due to production delays caused by breakdowns, missing parts and shortages of skilled labour. They locate the sources of the delays and correct them by completing visual inspections, reviewing and adjusting operating practices and by enlisting the help of repairers, suppliers, and employees. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide to stop, slow or speed up work on projects or production runs. For example, sheet metal contractors may decide to stop fabricating ductwork after determining that pre-fabricated parts are less costly. Metal erecting contractors may decide to work longer hours to complete projects before inclement weather set in. (2)
  • Decide what equipment to purchase or lease. For example, metal erecting contractors select welding equipment from dozens of choices by considering the required application and the features offered by each machine. They also have to take into consideration the price, financing options, warranties and the new equipment's total cost ownership. (2)
  • Decide which tasks to assign workers. They consider the nature of the task, workers' skills and certifications, job descriptions and collective agreements and rates of pay. For example, iron work contractors assign trade certified welders to construct column supports and have labourers clean debris and stack boxes of welding rods. (2)
  • May decide to bid on construction and fabrication projects. They consider the nature of the projects, the timelines and the availability of skilled labour. For example, a supervisor of blacksmiths may bid on a contract to create decorative railings after determining that sufficient revenue will be generated and that workers will be available to complete the work within the required timeline. (2)
  • Choose methods to enhance production and improve safety performance. For example, they decide which reward systems will best motivate productive workers and what additional training and supervisory measures are needed for workers who have problems with quality and deadlines. (3)
  • Select work procedures and methods. After analysing projects, they select equipment and tools which meet safety and output requirements, parts and materials that meet product specifications and employees who have the required skills. (3)
Critical Thinking
  • Judge the completeness, reasonableness and accuracy of drawings and specifications. For example, metal erecting contractors draw upon their knowledge of construction techniques to determine if there is enough information on scale drawings to accurately determine numbers of steel beams, columns and joists required. (2)
  • Evaluate the severity of worksite hazards. For example, sheet metal contractors assess the ability of ladders and hoists to safely support the weight of workers by visually inspecting the equipment for damage. Metal erecting contractors assess the potential safety risks presented by slippery work surfaces, low hanging power lines, frayed cables, standing water and the use of compressed gases. (2)
  • Evaluate the suitability of workers for employment, assignments and promotions. They consider the requirements for various positions and how candidates can satisfy those requirements by evaluating resumes, assessing the results of interviews and by reviewing information provided by references. (2)
  • Judge the quality of products produced and services rendered. They assess product quality by analysing reject rates and by measuring and comparing product dimensions and metallurgical properties to required specifications and tolerances. They assess quality of service by questioning customers such as building superintendents and general contractors to determine satisfaction levels and by considering factors such as missed timelines and delayed delivery dates. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing Own Job Planning and Organizing

Contractors and supervisors, metal forming, shaping and erecting trades organize their daily activities to meet deadlines established by clients and management. Contractors are responsible for planning and organizing their time and do so in ways that optimize their efficiency. Scheduled activities are frequently interrupted by unexpected labour shortages, equipment failures and delays created by other contractors, inclement weather or shortages of parts, materials and supplies. Supervisors have less control over their own task planning and organizing as managers and company owners often establish timelines and work routines. Supervisors may have to adjust their work schedules when equipment failures occur, workers fail to show and shipments of parts, materials and supplies are delayed.

Planning and Organizing for Others

Contractors and supervisors, metal forming, shaping and erecting trades coordinate and schedule the activities of workers to efficiently meet project deadlines and job requirements.

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember details on scale drawings such as elevations, the number of joists required and the location of brackets, braces and bolt holes.
  • Remember specifications such as weight per foot of steel beams, the lifting power of hoists and cranes and the air flow capacities of various sized ducts.
Finding Information
  • Learn about prospective employees by reviewing resumes, asking questions during interviews and by talking with references. (2)
  • Locate product information such as codes, descriptions and specifications by reviewing web sites, catalogues, pricelists and by talking with suppliers. (2)
  • Locate information about new products and production techniques by reading trade magazines and marketing brochures, by talking with suppliers and other contractors and supervisors and by conducting research using the Internet. (2)
  • Determine project specifications and allowable materials by reviewing scale drawings and product specification sheets, reading regulations issued by associations such as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers and by speaking with engineers, building safety codes officers and clients. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use word processing. For example, they use basic editing and text formatting features in word processing applications such as Word and WordPerfect to write letters, performance evaluations and short reports. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, they record payroll data, query inventory levels and generate customer and supplier contact lists using Access and Dbase software. (2)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they may create spreadsheets using software applications such as Excel and Quattro Pro. They input data and incorporate basic summing formulas to create and monitor budgets and cash flows. (2)
  • Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software. For example, contractors may use accounting programs such as Simply Accounting and Quick Books to record and track financial transactions. (2)
  • Use computer-assisted design, manufacturing and machining. For example, supervisors of structural and platework fabricators and fitters may use may use software programs such as STRUCAD to retrieve and review electronic models and layout drawings of buildings and other metal structures. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example they use Outlook and Netscape to exchange e-mail and electronic files with customers and suppliers (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they access supplier websites to research new products and product specifications using browsers such as Internet Explorer and Netscape. (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Contractors and supervisors, metal forming, shaping and erecting trades lead and coordinate work teams that include licensed trades people, machine operators, apprentices and helpers. They may also be required to coordinate their activities with other contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers. For example, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractors collaborate with plumbing contractors to ensure that the fixtures they install do not impede other contractors' access. (3)

Continuous Learning

Contractors and supervisors, metal forming, shaping and erecting trades set their own learning goals and take advantage of many opportunities for learning. They learn through conversations with site inspectors, safety code officers, colleagues, engineers and clients. They learn about new regulations by reviewing legislation issued by employment standards branches and about new products by reading trade magazines issued by industry associations and bureaus. Supervisors are more likely than contractors to access off-site training and have their training paid by employers. Training, which includes courses relating to professional and technical, safety, quality assurance and human resource management, is frequently delivered by private trainers, post secondary institutions and associations such as the Canadian Welding Bureau. Those using specialized welding processes, such as steel structure fusion welding, may be required to renew their welding certificates annually through the Canadian Welding Bureau. (2)

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