Campus Life  

Women empowering high school girls to step into trades

female salmon arm plumbing student working on demo at trades center

One hundred female high school students from the Okanagan, Similkameen and Shuswap will be learning from successful women this week at Okanagan College at the inaugural Jill of All Trades event, to be held at OC’s Kelowna campus Wednesday, May 15. 

Mentors like Sandy Morris, who has been involved in residential construction for more than 15 years and now owns her own construction business, will be at OC to help introduce careers in trades to young women. Morris will be joined by other female industry mentors, including aircraft maintenance engineer Amanda Kury from KF Aerospace and Krista Ohman-Relph, an electrician and crew chief at BC Hydro, as they inspire young women to find their passion in the fulfilling world of trades.

“I've felt very fortunate to have been able to not just break into the construction industry but end up owning my own construction company,” said Morris.  Being able to take part in the Jill of all Trades program is amazing, working with young girls that are taking an interest in the construction industry is nothing short of awesome.  I hope in some small way I can show the girls where you can take your career – there are so many different areas to go into and progress to, even owning your own business!”  

OC is hosting Jill of All Trades for the first time this year. It is being led by?OC instructors?and?28?female?industry?mentors with workshops aiming to equip young women with the knowledge and confidence to pursue fulfilling careers in the trades.

Sara Cousins, OC’s manager of Trades programming, has been working in OC’s Trades and Apprenticeship department for?almost 10 years?and says OC is committed to supporting women in trades and?promoting?diversity within the industry.  ?

"More than 20 per cent of OC Trades Foundation students are now female, and we have priority seats available to female applicants to help support their access and increase diversity in trades,” said Cousins. “Our goal is to continue to develop the workforce of the future and increase the number of tradespeople overall in our region and the province.”   

“There are currently a lot of job openings in the trades with careers that typically pay well and provide many benefits,” said Cousins. “The average Red Seal tradesperson in Canada’s salary is now $111,500.”  
The Jill of All Trades event will feature a range of hands-on workshops in sectors such as motor vehicle, manufacturing and construction trades, providing the attendees with insight and practical skills. 

The first annual Jill of All Trades event will take place on May 15, 2024, at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.  For more on OC Trades and Apprenticeship training, visit okanagan.bc.ca/trades-and-apprenticeship.

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