Building rewarding careers for women in trades
WITT program support can be a key to success
When Carla Milleker finished her plumbing certificate at Saskatchewan Polytechnic, she wasn’t sure where she’d find work. But as luck would have it, All-Rite Plumbing in Emerald Park, Saskatchewan needed employees at the same time and hired her before she even became an apprentice.
“We were looking for skilled, competent employees to help us meet demand at the time,” says Nick Walbaum, senior project manager at All-Rite. “Carla had all the skills we were looking for. Now, she’s become a leader within the company.”
For Milleker, it was the perfect fit.
“I’m really glad I was able to find a job doing what I am good at,” she says. “I’m able to use the skills I developed at school and work alongside some really great people. All-Rite recognizes what I am capable of and continues to support me in my career.”
Now, more than nine years later and still working at All-Rite, Milleker is a journeyed plumber and an instructor for the Women in Trades and Technology (WITT) exploratory course at Sask Polytech. The course provides hands-on career exploration for women 15 years of age and up and offers an introduction to a variety of basic trade skills. Each workshop is led by a female trades professional and course content includes basic skills in: auto body, automotive servicing, building systems, carpentry, electrical, machining, masonry, plumbing, and welding.
Milleker says she enjoys being able to share her skills and knowledge to other women curious about a career in the trades.
“There are some great career opportunities out there,” she says. “Part of what I do in the course is to show women that they can do whatever they want. We teach them skills and help them build confidence.”
For Walbaum, participation in the WITT program can be a hiring advantage between two similarly matched candidates.
“We look for people that are reliable, motivated and can do a good job,” says Walbaum. “The mentorship program and additional programs offered by WITT may provide a potential employee with additional life skills that can be beneficial in the long run.”
Walbaum says that All-Rite focuses on hiring people with the right set of skills and abilities, male or female. But, he adds, there’s still a lot of work that the construction industry could be doing for employment equality.
“There is fifty per cent of the population that the industry isn’t doing a great job at bringing in and using their skills and knowledge,” says Walbaum. “With programs like WITT, perhaps more women will be encouraged to join the trades and our industry.”
Milleker says she’s happy with the choice she made to go into the trades.
“It’s not necessarily a glamorous job, but I’m solving problems every day,” she says. “I’m also working for a company that provides unique challenges and allows me to continue to grow and develop my skills.”
For more information on Women in Trades and Technology visit www.saskpolytech.ca/witt.
This article was originally published in the Saskatchewan Construction Association's We Build magazine.