The Benefits of Skilled Tradespeople in a Digital-First World

Greg Crumpton lives by a simple mantra: Relationships drive business. Each week on Straight Outta Crumpton, Crumpton dives into the lost art of networking and speaks with the biggest influencers in business services to learn how they build, nurture and value their professional relationships.


Straight Outta Crumpton brings the voices from various industries to talk about how they’re making a difference in the world. Jamie McMillan is a shining example. McMillan, founder of KickAss Careers and ironworker, joined Greg Crumpton on the show to discuss her path and how she’s breaking down barriers.

McMillan’s path to skilled trades was far from a straight arrow. She wasn’t very aware of such programs while in school. A chance meeting changed all that. “I saw an old high school classmate randomly needing a pen on the street. We were 500 miles from where we grew up, and she was talking about an ironworks program,” she described.

She began an apprenticeship, but it was apparent that women were underrepresented. “When I started in ironwork, women made up about two percent.”

In another twist of fate, Skills Ontario reached out to her about speaking at a mentoring banquet for girls. She kept doing this for a while, then had the chance to participate on a panel. Her story resonated with many, and she suddenly was in high demand. “I’m a brand now. Initially, I advocated to young women but soon expanded the scope to everyone,” McMillan said.

She then founded KickAss Careers, touring Canada and the U.S. as a speaker. The group grew tremendously. “Those working with me now are people I met and inspired and wanted to be part of our mission.”

Her next big goal for KickAss Careers is a full-scale ambassador program with real people in pursuit of skills trades representing. McMillan cautioned that the barriers still exist. “At first, there was a gap with educators, not discussing with students opportunities outside of college. They are now on board, but parents still have a gap, looking at trades as viable pathways,” she added.

McMillan and her team will keep shining the light on skilled trades, advocating and motivating others to keep carrying the torch.

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