Canadian Manufacturing

Skilled trades hiring fair swamped with 1,100 job seekers

Hamilton, Ont., rail car maker is hiring to diversify its business and satisfy demand for cars that carry potash, plastic pellets and grain

HAMILTON, Ont.—A Hamilton rail car maker is hiring 400 people, but says its hiring fair looking for skilled trades turned into something more resembling a zoo.

National Steel Car says about 1,100 turned up for its job fair.

People arrived more than two hours before the fair’s 9 a.m. opening, and staff were still processing applications well after the event’s 3 p.m. closing time.

Human resources vice-president Hal Bruckner says 300 of those hired will be welders, while 100 will be in other roles such as crane operators and electricians.

He says the 120-year-old firm is hiring to diversify its business and due to increasing demand for cars carrying various commodities, such as potash, plastic pellets and grain.

Those hired can expect a starting salary of $21 an hour, which will rise to $25 an hour after a year.

Bruckner says the firm’s demand for welders is so high the firm is starting its own welding school.

“We’re going to put people in—they may have either very low skills or some, no skills at all, but interested—we’re going to provide them training and give them a start,” Bruckner said.

He added the firm only expected between 500 and 600 people.

“The welders’ side, because of the volume, did bog down a little,” he said. “That’s where we’re doing a little more work in terms of showing people what the occupation requires.”

The firm wants welders to stay for the long term, Bruckner said, and is showing presentations about the job so applicants can make an informed decision.

“If we want to invest in training people, we want them to be committed.”

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