Women in trades continues innovative path towards training
By Brittany Grimsdale, Sask Polytech WITT provincial facilitator (acting)
Women in Trades & Technology (WITT) at Saskatchewan Polytechnic has been dedicated to increasing the number of women in Saskatchewan trades and technology for over 30 years. For three decades WITT has been developing innovative camps, workshops and mentorships for women and girls interested in trades and technology. WITT continues to build new collaborative relationships and update programming to stay relevant to the needs of women and girls today.
Earlier this year Canada’s Building Trades Unions (CBTU) announced the launch of provincial Offices to Advance Women Apprentices (OAWA) in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. The OAWA provide career services, employment supports and networking opportunities to help tradeswomen access training and secure employment. WITT is collaborating with OAWA to develop and promote a provincial database of female apprentices. This database will help employers find qualified female apprentices and provide support for women from apprenticeship to journeyed status.
WITT also is working proactively to bring trades and technology workshops to a new target demographic, elementary school students. Our hope is that this outreach to grade eight students will spark an interest in the myriad of excellent trades or technology career options available to women before the teens start to seriously consider a career.
At WITT we are always seeking feedback to improve our services to from female apprentices, students and program participants. We regularly utilize surveys to see where changes could be made, test run new ideas and introduce new speakers to make sure we are always expanding and growing. Even when running the same annual programs, we try to introduce new projects and bring in speakers from different backgrounds to showcase new or obscure technologies and careers.
I personally have been able to attend the first two Supporting Women in Trades Conferences, hosted by the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, which has allowed me to bring back and share new and interesting information with Sask Polytech. This summer I was appointed to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum Task Force for the Development of a National Strategy for Supporting Women in the Trades which involves monthly meetings with other likeminded people across Canada. Being a part of this task force will help ensure that WITT keeps up to date with the newest concepts supports for tradeswomen.
For more information on Sask Polytech’s Women in Trades and Technology program visit saskpolytech.ca/witt.
This article was originally published in the Saskatchewan Construction Association's We Build magazine.
Published October 2019.