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TRAINING & EDUCATION: Career Ready Fund the key to graduate’s success in GTA’s tile trade
May 10th, 2019 4:05 pm     A+ | a-

Amina Dibe / RESCON
Michael Lee can’t believe he gets paid to use his beloved Sigma tile cutter.

“It’s a tool I use every day and the quality at which it cuts tiles cannot be beat,” the 21-year-old tile setter from Markham tells RESCON.

Lee has big plans after graduating from Humber College with a certificate in design, and two diplomas in industrial woodworking and home renovation.

He credits the college’s three programs and participation in RESCON’s career-ready fund initiative for rounding out his knowledge to kickstart his journey into the skilled trades.

Humber graduate and tile setter Michael Lee.

“Humber’s home renovation program helped me prepare for the trades by enforcing the theory behind why things are done a certain way,” Lee says. “What got me interested in tile setting was the ability to use my keen eye for design along with being able to see the finished product.”

While he is satisfied with the money he earns, there is a more important reason for him to set tiles than just salary.

“Being able to work with my hands and produce final products that people can love is why I enjoy tile setting,” says Lee, who also likes to keep busy playing guitar after work. “Plus, the ability to work on various sites keeps the job interesting.”

Through a strategic partnership with Humber’s School of Applied Technology, the Humber/RESCON/ORCCA Skilled Trades pilot program, which started last spring, aimed to place graduates from Humber programs. These included carpentry and home renovations, plumbing techniques, and industrial woodworking. Students were placed for work experience within residential sub-trades such as:

- tile installation
- concrete and drain installation
- high-rise forming
- low-rise framing
- railings installation

Lee participated in the Job Talks Construction video series. The photos of Lee in this blog are courtesy of Job Talks.

Andrew Pariser, chair of ORCCA and vice-president of RESCON, says the pilot program has been a success and both organizations are happy with its results.

“This program not only directly placed graduates in skilled trade positions, but also laid the foundation for future placements by enhancing the co-operation between employers and colleges. This has improved career clarity for graduates and expanded the talent pool for employers,” Pariser says.


A crucial part of the pilot program involved the innovative job-seeker module and curriculum, which provided practical on-site experience to prepare students for work.

“I found that the job-seeker module did help make the transition into the job easier. A lot of what is expected on site was also expected in the classes offered by Humber,” Lee says.

As a tile setter, he says hitting tight deadlines is the biggest challenge on the job, but hard work and a supportive team has ensured success.

See the Job Talks video of Lee at:

“My co-workers reassured me that it would take time to fully hone my skills,” he says. And once he hones those skills, he is keeping his options open to see where his profession takes him.

“I wouldn’t mind staying in the tile setting trade but would like to lead or own my own company,” Lee says.

When asked if he had advice to give to future graduates of the Humber home renovation program, Lee says: “Take your time to learn the trade. It will take time to get to the level you want to be at and you just need to keep at it. You are going to have good days and you will definitely have some bad days, but it is all part of the job and you have to learn to work through them.”

Amina Dibe is a programs and policy analyst at RESCON. Email her at
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