July 18, 2014 7:43 pm

Camp encourages girls to consider careers in trades and technology

REGINA – A group of a preteen girls capped off a week of learning carpentry, axle building, and computer design skills with a go-kart race on Friday.

“You just get this big piece of plywood, and you have to measure yourself and all that to see how you’re going to fit in it,” said Dineke Wesdyk, showing off her handmade “Frozen” themed contraption.

The 12-year-old was one of about ten participants in the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology’s Girls Exploring Trades & Technology camp.

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While most of the afternoon races at the Wascana campus lasted about a minute each, the work started back on Monday. The girls, who are in Grades 6-8, built their contraptions from scratch.

The goal of the program is to show girls that careers in technology and trades aren’t reserved just for men.

“Sometimes women have different ideas than men, and [they] might be even better than the men’s,” said Wesdyk.

It appears they’ve taken notice at SIAST since the number of women in apprenticeship programs has more than doubled between 2007 and 2012, according to the latest available statistics provided by the school.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Jessica Baldwin, a SIAST Technology and Trades Facilitator.

The increase is also wonderful for the province’s economy, as businesses struggle with the skilled workers shortage.

“There’s a completely untapped resource; about 50 per cent of the population,” she said.

Each racer was recognized at the event, but there is another kind of prize on some minds.

“It might be really inspiring to little girls [to see more women working in this line of work] because they’re like, ‘Wow, my mom does this, and that’s so cool. Like, you think this is only for guys, but I can do this if I wanted to,’” said Wesdyk.

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