The trade smart way

The Trade Smart Solution

Trade Smart College was created to solve a problem. Across North America, we desperately need more excellent candidates to enter the trades and go on to become the next generation of industry leaders. There are many reasons why this isn’t happening today, but the main problem is that the pathway from education to employment is broken.

The Trade Smart foundation

We started Trade Smart as a response to what companies, industry groups, governments and students have been demanding for at least two decades.

  • Trades companies cannot expand their businesses, and many turn down work because they cannot find quality skilled workers.
  • Industry groups lobby for incentives to ease these shortages, but companies rarely have the time to sort through the bureaucracy of applications, tax credits, and temporary programs.
  • Governments want the tax revenue from economic growth, lower unemployment, and are genuinely interested in having students complete relevant training that will get them a job.
  • And students just want a fair chance at a good job with the potential to grow. 

Despite the fact that everyone has been begging for change, less than 25% of people who want an apprenticeship are able to get one. Compounding that problem, apprenticeship completion rates are stuck below 40% across the country. This is an enormous loss for Canada, and there is a better way.


Connect with one of our team members to
enter for your chance to win a $500 scholarship

Win one of 15 $500 Trade Smart College scholarships for our May semester. Entering is as easy as filling out the form, connecting with a team member, and we’ll enter you in the draw.

The Trade Smart Team

Dan Guest

Founder / Chancellor

Dan Guest is the visionary founder of Trade Smart College. His profound commitment to empowering individuals and fostering excellence within the trades industry served as the catalyst for the establishment of Trade Smart College. With a keen awareness of the challenges inherent in the apprenticeship process, Dan seeks to provide innovative solutions to these longstanding issues. Through his leadership and advocacy efforts, Dan has played a pivotal role in shaping the professional careers of numerous tradespeople, positively impacting the lives of countless individuals across the industry.

Dan is the President of Guest Plumbing and HVAC. Dan started his career as an apprentice and worked as a licensed plumber and gas fitter before founding his own company in 2015. Since then, Guest Plumbing and HVAC has experienced significant growth and established itself as a valuable part of the construction industry and the Hamilton community. Dan’s unwavering commitment to excellence continues to serve as guiding principles in his mission to empower and inspire the next generation of skilled professionals.

Bruce Arai

Founder / President

As the President of Trade Smart College, Bruce is focused on connecting motivated students with forward-thinking employers to create a pipeline of excellence into the trades. This is The Purpose of our College, and it permeates everything we do.
Bruce’s personal mission is to change learning.

Bruce is a professor of leadership and has held several senior administrative positions including Dean, Principal/Vice-President, and Assistant Provost: Strategy at Wilfrid Laurier University. He created dozens of degree programs and partnerships at Laurier’s Brantford campus that emphasized student success and skill development. Bruce’s scholarly expertise in self-leadership and personal performance coupled with his experience in building a university campus forms the foundation of the Trade Smart College learning experience.

Carrie Hague

Student Success Manager

Carrie Hague is our Student Success Manager at Trade Smart College.  Carrie facilitates a seamless journey from the first encounter to graduation, along with the successful transition into the career path of each student. Carrie is your key point of contact regarding initial inquiries, Campus visits, student applications and all other Student Success relations. 

Carrie has worked for over 8 years in Student Success and Admissions roles within the Private Career College sector. She has enjoyed being a part of the journey and growth for many learners during their time in school, assisting with their development in career focused training.   Her main priority is providing personalized support, guidance and resources to help students navigate challenges, and develop healthy habits in an environment where all students can thrive and succeed.  

Rachel Thoo

Campus Administrator

Rachel Thoo is our Campus Administrator at Trade Smart College. Rachel is responsible for ensuring a smooth process throughout our student’s Trade Smart journey, and monitors and guides them from their initial application through to graduation. Rachel is your key point of contact regarding campus visits, initial inquiries, applications and anything student success related.

Rachel has worked as a Pastry chef for 6+ years, before moving to administration at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto. She has witnessed many student’s journeys and assisted them through their growth within their time at the school. Her main priorities are to ensure a knowledgeable, comfortable, and respectful learning environment for the students and their career goals.

Deijahna Thomas

Marketing Manager

Meet Deijahna Thomas, our passionate Marketing Manager here at Trade Smart College. With a knack for strategic planning and creative execution, Deijahna is dedicated to showcasing the invaluable opportunities available to aspiring tradespeople. From crafting compelling campaigns to fostering strong industry partnerships, Deijahna is committed to empowering individuals to pursue fulfilling careers in the skilled trades.

Deijahna has over five years of Marketing experience and obtains a bachelors degree in film and Television. Deijahna’s years of experience and schooling keeps her connected to exploring the latest trends in digital marketing and helps increase her networking skills. Connect with Deijahna Thomas to learn more about how Trade Smart College is shaping the future of the trades industry!

Joel Boyd

Senior Instructor

Joel Boyd is one of the Senior Instructors at Trade Smart College. Joel provides our students with the skills required to help them be successful in their chosen field. Learning specific business concepts are essential to success in the trades. Joel will teach, mentor and coach our students, so that they can master these skills.

Joel is a licensed millwright and has 30 years of experience in both trades and trade support. He has worked for a major company in Hamilton as a Senior Millwright Specialist. Joel also has experience as a heavy equipment mechanic and parts sales for both industrial and automotive businesses. As an instructor, Joel will bring his extensive knowledge on the inner workings of the trades businesses to assist our students on their pathway towards success.

Wesley Gautcher


As an instructor at Trade Smart College Wesley works tirelessly to coach and lead students, helping them develop the skills that companies deem most valuable in today’s skilled trades, ensuring that they are apprenticeship-ready.

With a focus on sharing real-life skills and experiences gained from over 30 years as a Red Seal chef and graduate of an apprenticeship program, Wesley’s diverse background in hospitality spans luxury hotel brands, restaurants, luxury senior retirement living, and nonprofit organizations. Through Wesley’s guidance, students gain practical knowledge and insights essential for success in the evolving landscape of the trades industry.

recruitment process

At Trade Smart College, we start by getting our pre-approved companies to commit to one apprenticeship position for every student they take on a internship; therefore we only take students if we can provide a placement for them. This is not a guarantee of a job; we are simply determining the number of students we accept by the number of jobs we know are available.

Once we accept a student, they spend two months in class followed by six months on a monitored internship with an approved company. The in-class curriculum is determined by what our companies say they want in quality pre-apprentice candidates.

Blending Professional and Technical Skills

Companies are not looking for students to know a bunch of trade-specific technical knowledge. Plumbing pre-apprentices don’t need to know how to thread pipe any more than auto-mechanic pre-apprentices need to know how to change a timing chain. These skills can and will be learned much later on in the apprenticeship process, usually after a few years.

What companies actually want in pre-apprentice candidates are a set of professional skills that will make the person a quality employee. And this set of skills is the same across all of the trades we support. These include punctuality, organization, respect, a strong work ethic, uniform compliance, and emotional control, among others. Companies need to know that a student can be a professional before they will invest the time and resources to teach them any technical skills. Traded Smart College classes are an intensive immersion in professionalism.

model for success

Most colleges and universities stay in business when they can attract enough students to fill their programs. The goal is to have as many students as possible graduate, because this maximizes the tuition received, and students get the credential they paid for. With few exceptions, no attempt is made to match the number of students admitted with the number of jobs available. For instance, a large college might produce 200 pre-apprentice plumbers per year in a city with 60 plumbing companies. This is a recipe for disappointment.

At Trade Smart, our model is different. We start by confirming the number of potential jobs available for our graduates. This establishes the number of internships we can offer, which establishes the number of students we can accept. Our long-term success is dictated by our ability to provide students with job opportunities, not how many students we can graduate. And our ability to provide job opportunities depends on giving our students the skills our companies want. This is not factory schooling. It is training tied directly to local trades labour markets.

Contact the Team

Hamilton Campus

Campus Hours