Innovative skilled trades program offers new options for women and employers
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May 4, 2011
Many of BC's skilled trades workers are nearing retirement, and finding qualified replacement workers to fill the expected gap presents a challenge for industry, and a growing opportunity for potential students.
Tapping into a new population of students
Knowing that women are under-represented in skilled trades careers, BC’s Industry Training Authority partnered with Camosun College to deliver a hands-on exploration and preparation program called the Women in Trades Training Initiative (WTTI). During the five-month pilot program students sampled a variety of trades, learned valuable academic and applied skills, and gained insights into the rewards and challenges of a career in one of the skilled trades.
While exploring trades like welding, automotive, pipefitting, electrical, horticulture and carpentry, students learned essential skills: how to measure, cut, wire and weld. They learned soft skills, too. For example, time management is essential when juggling overlapping challenges of family, work and study commitments.
Graduation reception celebrates student achievement
At a recent graduation reception for the pilot WTTI class, instructor Alison Bowe commended the students' perseverance and hard work. "There were two types of education going on in the WTTI project," says Bowe. "There were the hands-on activities that students checked out: surveying, plumbing, forklift driving, horticulture. Then there was the academic upgrading they were expected to do. These women would slog away in the shop or on job sites all day long, then get themselves to Interurban campus twice a week for math and English studies. The classroom wasn't fun like pounding nails or soldering pipe, but as people got more and more interested in the trades, they became more inspired to do the upgrading."
In addition to celebrating student accomplishments, project leader Olaf Nielsen paid tribute to the network of over 50 family and friends in attendance at the reception. "This has not been an easy program, and the student success is a real testament to the support you gave along the way," says Nielsen.
More about WTTI
WTTI supports students by funding tuition, books, supplies and childcare subsidies. Students have the choice of direct entry into Foundations training, or the facilitated work transition/exploration program, which is co-delivered by Bridges for Women Society and Camosun College.
Contact the Trades Department to learn more about WTTI.
Last updated: May 4, 2011 9:52 am