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Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador conference offers look at future for women in workforce

Hayley Martin, a powerline student at the College of the North Atlantic’s Seal Cove campus, tries her hand at welding during the Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador’s Annual Skilled Career Day at the Prince Philip Drive campus on Friday.
Hayley Martin, a powerline student at the College of the North Atlantic’s Seal Cove campus, tries her hand at welding during the Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador’s Annual Skilled Career Day at the Prince Philip Drive campus on Friday. - Sam McNeish

Finding jobs in non-traditional fields of employment for women was one of the highlighted areas of conversation at the Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador’s Annual Skilled Career Day held at the College of the North Atlantic’s Prince Philip Drive campus on Friday.

A host of female students participated in the day-long competition and information sessions, dedicated to celebrating the work of skilled trades-people and technologists and highlighting the array of rewarding career opportunities available in skilled trades and technologies.

“There is a lot more interest as girls are trying different career paths, things like mechanics, carpentry, welding,” said Cindy Fowler, placement co-ordinator for the Office to Advance Women Apprentices.
“By being here and chatting with them, we are hoping to expose them to things they may not normally think about.”
Finding a career that has been male-dominated in the past is something Kathryn Cole, a Grade 10 student at Gonzaga High School in St. John’s, would like to explore and she hopes to break the mold in doing so.

“Back then, men would go out and have a career and the women would just stay at home,” Kathryn said. “In today’s society, why stay home? We can get out and do cool things, too.”

Attractions of the day included Try-A-Trade demonstrations, a career showcase, guided tours, a partnership luncheon with guest speakers from the provincial and federal governments, a Skills Work for Women conference, an Alumni Connect conference and, most prominently, the Skills Canada Provincial Competitions.

“This is a good opportunity to show girls you don’t have to stay at home. There is no reason you can’t do non-traditional jobs and even be the breadwinner of the family,” said Riley Tucker, also in Grade 10 at Gonzaga.

“I am not sure what I want to be. I am a hands-on learner and getting in here today and seeing and trying different trades gives me a different perspective. Getting to do any of these trades would be cool.”

Elin Muskova, in Grade 10 at Gonzaga, saw a lot of interesting trades, several of which drew her interest. One of those included electrical panels and how they worked, in addition to welding and plumbing.

“There were a lot of things here today I didn’t know existed,” Elin said.

A host of other events took place at various sites on campus throughout the day.

“I am leaning towards a career in television and video production. This conference allows me to see a number of careers and to try a few skills outside of my chosen area,” Gonzaga Grade 10 student Madeline Hart said.

More than 350 regional finalists from across Newfoundland and Labrador competed in more than 40 competition areas on Friday.
The gold-medal winners will form Team Newfoundland and Labrador and represent the province at the 24th annual Skills Canada National Competition in Edmonton from June 3-6.

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