Conestoga news

June 8, 2014 4:26 PM

Local students explore careers in skilled trades

A group of more than 300 students, teachers, partners and government representatives visited Conestoga's Cambridge (Fountain Street) campus on Wednesday, June 4 to participate in a day-long event designed to introduce young women to the tremendous potential of careers in the skilled trades.

Presented by Conestoga in association with the School College Work Initiative - Grand Connections regional planning team, the event featured guest speakers, interactive displays and a variety of hands-on workshops that provided young women in Grades 9 - 12 with opportunities to learn more about such trades as automotive service, carpentry, drywall, masonry, plumbing, welding, heavy equipment operation, electrical and more.

Funding for the event was provided by Ontario’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Danielle Bryk, star of HGTV program Bryk House, inspired participants by sharing her story and encouraging the young women in attendance to explore their interests, view challenges as learning experiences and build the life of their dreams.

Bryk, who holds a degree in English Literature and Art History from Queen’s University, developed an interest in home renovation at an early age while watching her mother transform their family home. She developed her knowledge and skills as she renovated a series of homes for her own family, often on a very limited budget. She is now a licensed contractor and designer who can build a home from the foundation up.

During her keynote address, Bryk pointed out the tremendous career opportunities that exist in the trades: within the next five to ten years, 40 per cent of skilled tradespersons are expected to retire. Although only 3 per cent of apprentices in today’s construction industry are women, Bryk encouraged participants to pursue their interests, learn from their experiences, and look past the myths and misconceptions that deter many women from trades careers.

“If you can get the job done and do it well,” Bryk said, “then you can be whatever you want.”

This story in the Cambridge Times includes photos of some of the day's participants engaged in learning new skills.

Conestoga has provided trades training programs specifically for women since 1977 and recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Women in Skilled Trades - General Carpentry program funded by the Ontario Women’s Directorate. The next session of the program, which includes 28 weeks of hands-on instruction followed by ten weeks of on-the-job training, begins in September 2014. For more information, contact Kristen Goetz at 519-885-0300 ext. 5484 or email

To learn more about rewarding careers for women in skilled trades, visit