BY EMMIE SIROKY
“Women can do it all” was the theme at this year’s Women in Trades event put on by Skills Ontario and its Young Women’s Initiatives. The event was held at the Frank Hasenfratz Centre of Excellence in Manufacturing in Guelph, and was open to girls from high schools across the region. There were 137 female students from Grades 9 to 12 in attendance to learn about what it takes to be a woman in a trade and to open their minds to career possibilities.
“The idea behind it is to spend a morning doing hands-on workshops to get an idea on how to wire a receptacle, use different tools and do carpentry. These mentors are all women who are practising in the skilled trades and technologies,” said Nicola Macdonald, lead liaison for Young Women’s Initiative. “The girls take turns rotating though the mentors and get a chance to talk to them all. They get to tell their story and they answer any questions that the girls have. It’s all about breaking down those barriers. (This event) is about networking and it’s about finding out more about different careers that are out there in skilled trades and technology.’
The girls rotated though stations such as electrical, food processing and carpentry. There were 19 mentors registered, all local women from the area.
“I think it’s important (for girls to come out) because they need to see a different side of things,” said Michelle Palmer, a construction worker. “I was into the construction thing because my parents were, but I wanted to try a different thing, so I went into environmental sciences. It’s more about experience and being able to see the other side of things. You might not think you want to do a trade, but you need the opportunity to see what a screwdriver is, because how do you know you don’t like it if you have never had a chance to even touch it?”
According to Skills Canada, only three per cent of trades workers are women. Its program, Young Women’s Initiatives, had over 2,000 participants in 2014-2015. After taking the program, 93 per cent of female students said they would consider a job in the trades or technologies.
Some of the mentors were graduates of Conestoga College. The event will take place again next year. For more information, visit Skills Ontario’s website at www.skillsontario.com.