Conestoga news

April 8, 2020 10:11 AM

Networking event focuses on women in skilled trades

Conestoga’s Engineering, Technology and Trades for Women (ETT4W) welcomed more than 50 students and mentors to the college’s Doon campus on March 12 for the annual Women in Skilled Trades Forum.

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Female students and mentors in skilled trades participated in an icebreaker challenge as part of the college’s annual Women in Skilled Trades Forum. The event followed a round-robin speed networking format, where mentors moved from station to station to connect with groups of students to engage in discussions.

Hosted in celebration of International Women’s Day, the event invited female students enrolled in trades programs at Conestoga to meet mentors made up of part-time faculty, industry partners and alumni from the motive power, construction and industrial trades.

The event followed a round-robin speed networking format, where female mentors moved from station to station to connect with groups of students to engage in discussions around challenges, opportunities and the evolving role of women in skilled trades. 

“I have an interesting statistic that I came across,” said Joni Jean, chair, Trades & Apprenticeship, as she welcomed guests to the event, “only 11.5 per cent of registered apprentices across Canada are women.”

According to the latest Statistics Canada report, of the more than 390,000 apprentices registered across the country in 2018, women accounted for just over ten per cent. Jean explained that number included traditionally female-dominated trades -- hairstylists and estheticians, food services workers, and early childhood educators accounted for the top three. When taken out of the equation, women made up just five per cent of registered apprentices.

“We want to work together to increase that number,” Jean continued. “Here at Conestoga, about 150 women are currently enrolled in our skilled trades programs. There’s opportunity to do better.”

Through gender specific programming and opportunities for mentorship, Conestoga assists and encourages women to pursue careers in under-represented occupations. The college’s tuition-free Women in Skilled Trades certificate program, as well as the Increasing Canada’s Prosperity through Skilled Trades initiative, support low-income women who are unemployed or underemployed prepare for careers in trades.

College events like Jill of All Trades, Go ENG Girl, Go CODE Girl, and Trades and Technology days are also held at Conestoga campuses for young women in high school to learn more about careers in engineering, technology and skilled trades.

“There are a lot of opportunities for you to get involved while you’re here at school and when you graduate,” Jean told students. “I encourage you to stay involved and encourage more women to take advantage of this career path.”

Conestoga is a provincial leader in the delivery of trades and apprenticeship training to serve industry needs and the growing community. Comprehensive programming includes a wide range of post-secondary trades programs that provide pathways to employment in skilled trades careers as well as pre-apprenticeship training and in-school training for apprentices.

For more information, visit the School of Trades & Apprenticeship.