Conestoga news

March 1, 2024 10:47 AM

Conestoga graduate and Olympian on mission to promote skilled trades to women

Two-time Olympian and 2016 Conestoga Alumni of Distinction recipient Mandy Bujold’s new challenge is promoting the skilled trades, in particular to women who are still significantly underrepresented in the field.

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Two-time Olympian and Conestoga graduate Mandy Bujold visited the Conestoga Skilled Trades Campus on Reuter Drive in Cambridge for a tour of the workshops.

The Kitchener boxer and trailblazer in the male-dominated sport was recently hired as manager of industry and community partnerships for the Grand Valley Construction Association. As part of her new role, Bujold is looking to partner with the college since it is one of the largest providers of trades and apprenticeship training in the region and province.

Bujold visited the Conestoga Skilled Trades Campus on Reuter Drive in Cambridge for a tour of the workshops where students get hands-on training in the various trades. Suzanne Moyer, dean of Trades & Apprenticeship, lead the tour also joined by association president Jeff MacIntyre.

Moyer explained that women working in the trades account for only about five or six per cent of the workforce.

Bujold was interested to learn more about the programs and outreach at the college. Conestoga offers events and programs intended to encourage women and girls to consider a career in the trades, including the Women In Skilled Trades (WIST) general carpenter pre-apprenticeship certificate and Jill of All Trades.

Conestoga created Jill of All Trades a decade ago to give high school girls hands-on experience in the trades and to learn more about the potential of a trades career from female mentors. The event has spread to colleges across Canada, and more recently the United States.

Bujold, a 2007 Business grad, got an introduction to the trades on the tour, checking out the well-equipped shops where the students learn their trade through hands-on training.

“It’s something that I wish I would have explored more, especially now seeing all the really amazing opportunities and the different routes that you can go within construction,” Bujold said.

In her new role with the local construction association, Bujold aims to do all she can to ensure more people know about the trades as an excellent career option, especially as the skilled labour shortage grows and more workers are needed.

“People are starting to think differently. I think we need to start having those conversations at younger ages with our kids,” Bujold said. “This is an option.”

The trades may seem more daunting to women who historically weren’t encouraged to pursue these jobs. Bujold has a unique understanding through her boxing career of entering a field that’s male-dominated and having to break down barriers.

Now she’s entering the ring of skilled trades, keen to eliminate stereotypes and outdated views of the industry to get more people - women in particular - to consider a trades career. Bujold knows many of those interested in the trades will come to Conestoga, where classroom work is combined with lots of practical learning in the shops.

“It’s really cool to see that hands-on component of the trade,” Bujold said. “It’s definitely eye-opening.”

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. Visit the School of Trades & Apprenticeship for more information.