More women will get a chance to lace up their work boots and take the first step in a career in trades, thanks to a recent $79,660 gift from Prospera to a program at Okanagan College that has already trained over 1,300 women since it was founded.
The Women in Trades Training program was created to remove barriers for women interested in pursuing trades education and help meet the community’s surging need for skilled trades professionals.
“These bursaries and added equipment provide opportunities for women to pursue trades training, supporting them to go on to find a rewarding career and adding to the richness of representation and diversity in the workplace,” says Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This is just one example of how Okanagan College is opening doors for students and supporting their talent, passions, and pursuit of knowledge.”
“Women often don’t have early engagement with tools and equipment, which means they likely won’t consider the skilled trades as a career path. Our programs provide a supportive environment where women can learn new skills,” says Nancy Darling, Manager of the Women in Trades Training Program at Okanagan College.
The gift is made up of two separate donations: Since 2021, Prospera Credit Union has given $60,000 in student bursaries to be disbursed until 2025, and Prospera Foundation recently gave $19,660 for equipment for the SISTERS program.
The SISTERS program is a 30-week program that introduces Indigenous women to all aspects of the carpentry trade, including the use of hand tools and other equipment. SISTERS is part of Okanagan College’s Carpenter Foundation program.
“We’re proud to support Okanagan College’s Women in Trades Training program,” says Niki Jelstad, Director, Marketing and Community Engagement at Prospera. “Our partnership is a valuable investment in women and their families, and strategically supports our commitment to helping our local communities.”
Okanagan College has already received a portion of the funding for bursaries, and the remainder will be distributed over the next three years. The 2022 contribution provided $1,500 bursaries for seven students.
One of the recipients was Amanda Kury, a second-year student in Okanagan College’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Structures program.
“When I found out I’d received the award, I was overwhelmed with joy. It couldn’t have come at a better time because my savings had just run out. It was life-changing to get that much-needed break from worrying about money,” says Kury.
“Prospera’s generous gift has already had an incredible impact. Providing support for women accessing trades education increases diversity and inclusion, which benefits our entire community,” says Helen Jackman, Executive Director of Okanagan College Foundation.
By actively participating in exploring many different trades, women gain the confidence to pursue their career goals in trades. Trades that students experience in the training programs include carpentry, joinery, plumbing, and electrical.