Attracting women to the skilled trades

by | Nov 27, 2023 | 0 comments

Centennial College in Toronto hosted a Jill of All Trades event this fall to help inspire young women in high school to pursue careers in the skilled trades and technologies.

The issue of attracting people from all walks of life into the trades is an ongoing area of concern for the aftermarket. Implicit in this is the need to attract more women into what has been viewed to be a “man’s world,’ despite the many inroads made to make for a more welcoming environment.

A number of initiatives taking place across Canada provide a strong basis for an optimistic outlook on this front.

Hoping to address the stigma, Centennial College hosted a Jill of All Trades event this fall to help inspire young women in high school to pursue careers in the skilled trades and technologies.

The full-day event took place at Centennial’s Ashtonbee campus in Scarborough, welcoming more than 100 students from school boards across the GTA.

Participants rotated through workshops that gave them a chance to roll up their sleeves and try their hand at different skilled trades.

“Jill of All Trades is an important opportunity to inspire young women about the possibility of trades as a career path they can take,” said Michelle Solomon, Outreach Coordinator, Women in Non-Traditional Careers, Centennial College.

“Trying out the skilled trades excites and empowers students to explore the options that are available in industries like construction and transportation.”

The College’s auto body workshop included activities such as using a plasma cutter to cut a design into a piece of sheet metal. The heavy-duty equipment workshop included activities like taking off and installing one of the over four feet tall wheels on a Caterpillar Loader.

Very recently the Automotive Retailers Association in British Columbia hosted its third annual ‘Women in Automotive Networking Night.”

Women are leading the way across various business sectors, and the automotive industry is no exception. The evening networking event featured a workshop highlighting the contributions of women to the industry and ways to empower them. This workshop, led by the dynamic speaker and facilitator Andrea Jacques titled “EmpowHering Your Potential.”

And also late this fall, St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ont., welcomed its first graduating cohort in the AIA Canada organized Career Exploration program for job seekers looking to work in the automotive trades. The program is operated in concert with the EV Upskilling program for qualified tradespeople, and consists of in-person theoretical and hands-on training led by College instructors for 2-3 days a week.

Among the graduating cohort, nearly half were women. With this in mind, there is certainly interest in the trade among women. For the aftermarket the challenge continues to be whether it can retain apprentices through to graduation.

But it is a strong start for many.

“Through first-hand experience, students learn just how rewarding the skilled trades can be,” said Alan McClelland, Dean, School of Transportation, Centennial College, speaking of the Jill of all Trades initiative.

“Centennial College operates one of the largest transportation technology schools in Canada, so it’s a natural site for a skilled-trades orientation like Jill of All Trades.”

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Among the graduating cohort at the St. Lawrence College Career Exploration program nearly half were women.


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