Camps encourage girls to learn skilled trades

Watch above: a camp is giving girls a chance to learn skilled trades

SASKATOON – Grade eight student Chanel Chamberlain has been working with power tools all week, sawing, drilling, and assembling parts to make a go-kart.

“I just like building stuff. I’d like to be an electrician, possibly, or maybe a carpenter even,” she explained.

Chamberlain was among the participants in one of SIAST’s week-long “Girls Exploring Trades and Technology” camps, for young women from grades six to eight.

“They’re important because they raise awareness for girls that trades are an option for them,” explained the camps’ coordinator Devin West.

“Often they don’t have quite enough confidence or self-esteem to think they can do a trade,” said West.

Tradeswomen mentored the students, teaching them to use a variety of supplies and power tools.

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“Once you actually get into using them, they’re actually pretty awesome, and they’re not as terrifying as you think they are,” said grade eight student Alexis Shinmann.

While women have made gains in certain trades, according to Statistics Canada women account for less than two per cent of registered plumbing and carpentry apprenticeships.

This week, the Business and Professional Women of Saskatoon hosted a national convention on womens’ professional development.

Freda Miriklis, former president of BPW International, said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in Saskatchewan.

“A lot of your industries tend to be male dominated. You are home to one of the largest places of potash in the world, you have a very strong mining, oil, agriculture background here,” Miriklis explained.

But the group said many local companies have made great strides.

“Traditionally male-dominated industries are now starting to take note about how they treat and look out for their women workers, and how they value them,” said Miriklis.

The United Nations initiative Women’s Empowerment Principles was launched by BPW this week here in Saskatchewan, with recognition of our province’s first signatories.

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