The perception of women in trades is something Skills Ontario is trying to change.
“Our real main goal today is to show the girls what is possible because so often these careers are not talked about, not only by schools but parents, by everyone,” said Samantha Grant, a Young Women’s Initiatives Coordinator with Skills Ontario.
Grant and her Skills Ontario colleagues are traveling across the province looking to change misconceptions about the skilled trades being dirty, low-paying, and generally unsuitable for female workers.
On Friday, female students in grade 7 to 12 from various local school boards were at Canadore College commerce court campus learning first hand what the trades are all about at this career exploration event.
“It teaches us that girls can do it too, it is not just boys,” said Kady Jensen, a grade eight student at Maple Ride in Powassan.
“I had never even considered this but now I’m thinking I might do something like this and I’ve learned about teamwork too.”
Abigail Lefebvre is a grade eight student at Saint Hubert. She attended the event last year too but is excited to see how much bigger this year’s event is.
“I have a lot of men in my family and I have carpenter cousins, Uncles and my Dad is an engineer so I see myself as maybe being an engineer something like that or something along the lines of that,” she said.
Not only did the girls get to do some hands-on trades work, they also heard from mentors who told them about their success stories in the trades.
Cindy Bedard is the Recruitment Coordinator at Canadore College which partnered with Skills Ontario for this initiative. She believes the program gives young girls direction and another option for them moving forward with their education.
“These girls are in grades 7 and 8 and they are going to be thinking about high school and what classes they want to take so it is really important they start thinking now as to what courses they will take in high school they are prepared to go into their college or university of choice,” said Bedard.
While this is geared for young women, Grant believes trades are important for every student to consider.
“They are really fantastic careers for women and men alike no matter what your gender, you can make a really good living in the trades and technologies and we want students to consider these as first choice career options,” added Grant, noting the average age of an apprentice in Ontario is 28.
“The sooner we get to talk to them and tell them what their careers are all about, the better.”