Conestoga news

June 28, 2023 2:16 PM

Young women explore skilled trades careers at Jill of All Trades

Close to 270 young women in Grades 9 through 12 participated in Conestoga’s Jill of All TradesTM event on May 31 at the college’s Cambridge - Reuter Drive campus. 

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Close to 270 young women in Grades 9 through 12 participated in Conestoga’s Jill of All TradesTM event on May 31.

Delivered annually through the college’s School of Trades & Apprenticeship, the event is designed to help girls better understand the potential of skilled trades careers. This year’s participants joined from 12 school boards across southwestern Ontario and were supported by volunteers that included industry partners, faculty and graduates. Students participated in a selection of 18 hands-on workshops in the construction, industrial and motive power sectors.

This year marked the first year the program was delivered at Conestoga’s new skilled trades training campus. The state-of-the-art facility opened in fall 2022 to modernize apprenticeship and skilled trades training by consolidating and expanding the full complement of trades programs at a single location. The campus will be instrumental in Conestoga’s efforts to attract broader and more diverse students to trades-based careers.

The day-long Jill of All TradesTM event was launched by Conestoga in 2014 as part of the college’s commitment to fostering and enhancing women’s participation, persistence, and academic and career success in engineering, technology and trades. In 2022, the program expanded delivery to six other post-secondary institutions in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia to help address a skilled labour shortage. The program is expected to expand to more institutions across North America over the next three years, specifically tailored to meet employment needs in each geographic area.

The demand to keep pace with population growth and changing workforce demographics has led to a growing skills gap. Reports indicate that more than 700,000 skilled tradespeople are set to retire by 2028. Canada needs more than 167,000 new apprentices alone to keep pace. According to Statistics Canada, women account for roughly four per cent of workers in under-represented skilled trades occupations.

As part of opening remarks at the event, Conestoga President John Tibbits welcomed Blue-Collar CEO Mandy Rennehan as keynote speaker and announced she will serve as the North American ambassador for the Jill of All TradesTM program. Multi-award winning entrepreneur, trade industry advocate, philanthropist, and CEO and founder of multi-million dollar company Freshco, Rennehan has been one of North America’s loudest and fiercest voices about skilled trades for the last 30 years, advocating for greater respect towards the industry as a whole, and also for the inclusion of more women and diverse communities within it.

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

Visit the School of Trades & Apprenticeship for more information.