Pen High ran its first annual Women in Trades Bootcamp to help female students learn shop skills

Trades bootcamp for girls

The career department at Penticton Secondary School ran a two-day Women in Trades Bootcamp, hoping to help female high school students feel more comfortable joining shop classes. 

Running this Thursday and Friday, 13 young ladies joined the program and worked through four different trades including plumbing, electrical, carpentry and welding.

“They're learning all sorts of tools and tool safety, just having a fun couple days of getting to work together,” Trevor Knowlton, the District Careers Coordinator for SD 67 said. “The bulk of students here have never taken a shop class in high school so it's great to get them in shop.”

Knowlton set up the program at Pen High, getting a few other key teachers on board and advertising throughout the school for the workshop. 

“I've been wanting to do this for quite a while and this is finally the year that I sort of pushed ahead,” he said. 

“This is a great opportunity for the young ladies, quite often they might feel intimidated that they maybe don't have enough skills to come in and take a shop class.”

The program takes the young students spanning all grades out of their regular classes to focus on learning new shop skills and is completely free to attend. 

“Yesterday they built cedar benches in under three hours and then they used PEX plumbing pipe and created iPad holders. Right now they are pressure testing them to ensure all their joints are water tight," he said Friday.

"It's busy, bootcamp style so we're very focused in terms of moving on...We're trying to get as much in the two days as possible.”

Four local tradeswomen who are Pen High graduates also came in to speak with students during the workshop lunch breaks. 

“Maybe they'll consider looking into apprenticeship programs and it as a possible career area as they are transitioning out of high school,”  Knowlton added. He runs apprenticeship programs at Okanagan College throughout the Okanagan Valley. 

“Potentially it's a conversation between myself or a parent about this opening up some career opportunities that they didn't consider before.”

This is the first time the program has run in SD67, but Knowlton is hoping to expand it past just Pen High and through more Okanagan high schools in coming years. 

“It's been great to just show the girls the opportunities that are out there and we had some great chats in terms of females in the trade and the challenges.”

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