HOW TO ATTRACT MORE WOMEN IN SKILLED TRADES
With Ontario facing a serious labour shortage as it relates to skilled trades, construction and engineering, governments and post-secondary institutions are ramping up efforts to recruit candidates who will fill those positions. And they are targeting groups that didn’t traditionally enroll in such programs, including women.
For Émilie Cormier, coordinator of Collège La Cité’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program, even though women and girls have historically been underrepresented in engineering schools and various skilled trades training programs, the tide is slowly but surely turning.
“Back when I was studying, we were less than five girls out of a group of 200 students,” Ms. Cormier says.
Today, men still constitute a large majority of the students enrolled in engineering programs, as is currently the case in Ms. Cormier’s classrooms at La Cité. We are however seeing more and more women showing an interest towards such programs. As a matter of fact, this spring, women will graduate from La Cité’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program.
“The dynamic in the classroom is also very interesting. When our students have to work on projects as part of a team you don’t see women automatically team up together, which is encouraging,” says Émilie Cormier.
She notes that a lot of progress has been made, compared to when she was working in the private sector. However, in order to attract more women towards trades and engineering, we need to educate people through marketing, according to Émilie Cormier.
“If I look at mechanical engineering, it is still a widely unknown sector. When people think of mechanical engineering, they immediately believe that it is geared towards math and science. But it is a profession that requires a very creative mind,” says Ms. Cormier.
“The same goes for other sectors or skilled trades. To me, the electrical sector seems fascinating but back when I was in high school, never in my wildest dreams would I have envisioned pursuing a career in that field,” she adds.
Ms. Cormier concludes that even though ensuring better representation in non-traditional careers and training programs is a long process, having more women study and work in those sectors will undoubtedly have a ripple effect, which La Cité is already starting to observe at its Aviation Parkway main campus or at its state-of-the-art Skilled Trades Institute in Orleans.