There is a shortage of skilled trade personnel across Canada, which means a variety of career options are readily available for those prepared to train in this sector. Riverside College in Mission B.C. is one educational establishment looking to fill this gap, offering courses that include automotive service technician, carpentry, electrician, plumbing and a trade’s sampler. While the courses are popular, the historical trend of receiving few female applicants continues and Riverside are looking to change this through introducing the trades to this vastly under-represented group.
To inform upcoming female graduates of the careers available in trades, Riverside College joined forces with sponsors WorkBC, Industry Training Authority (ITA), Skill Source and local construction company Lacey Developments Ltd. on February 16, 2017, to give young women the information, motivation and opportunity to learn more at the first Women in Trades Conference for the Fraser Valley. The day was reserved for High School students, with a repeat in the evening that was open to the public.
With over 220 young women in attendance from schools across the region including Mission, Langley, Abbotsford and Seabird Island, the Clarke Theatre was abuzz with this high energy and fully engaged group, who heard first hand from keynote speaker Jamie McMillan of Kick Ass Careers on the self-worth and empowerment she has felt since choosing her career path. A certified welder, boilermaker and ironworker from Ontario, she highlighted some of the benefits of acquiring a skilled trade, from the high salaries and work opportunities worldwide to apprenticeships that offer salaries well above minimum wage while you qualify. She advised that being a trade’s journeyman is a “status, not a gender” and that “attitude is everything”.
The agenda continued with two panel discussions focused on students and industry, with the session rounding up with a tradeshow, where training programs and career opportunities were on display and available for one-on-one conversation.
Women represent only four percent of the skilled trade’s work force. Wade Peary, principal of Riverside College wants to increase that percentage. “Gone are the days of brute force on the construction site. Skilled trades people are working smarter not harder,” states Peary. “Riverside College is going to offer a female only trade’s sampler program during the first semester next year in hopes of having more young ladies choose a trade’s career path. Parents and students need to know that there will be over 30,000 potential openings for trade’s people over the next eight years that will pay between $25 – $40/ hour.”
Through detailed hiring demand reports run quarterly by Mission’s economic development department, the statistics show that Mission has more job seekers from occupations in the trades than the rest of the Lower Mainland. Economic Development Officer Stacey Crawford advised ““This real-time data is a clear indicator of how much interest and talent there is in the Mission area related to trades, and why it is so important to support this interest through improved access to training and the creation of local job opportunities”.
For further information on gaining a skilled trade contact Riverside College at 604-814-0446.
“Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world” –Hillary Clinton.