A unique program is underway at Lethbridge College, allowing a group of 10 women the opportunity to explore different aspects of the trades.
Women Building Futures (WBF) is an Edmonton-based not-for-profit organization that’s been spring-boarding women into new, stable careers in trades and construction for about 20 years, and for the first time, it’s offering the Journeywoman Start program in Lethbridge.
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“Our ultimate focus is economic security for women,” said WBF president and CEO Carol Moen.
“When women are secure, families are secure, and communities are ultimately better.”
The 12-week course provides hands-on, introductory training; carpentry, heavy-duty mechanics, welding, electrical, and wind turbine technician training are each dedicated a week.
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Participants say it feels like the options are endless.
“You really get a taste of a whole bunch of different things, and the safety aspect of it too, so if you weren’t necessarily interested in doing the trade, you could do the safety side of things,” said Jaida Overes.
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Overes says learning alongside other women has allowed her to jump in head-first, without some of the stress associated with trying out a new skill.
“There’s less intimidation and pressure with all women, just because we’re all kind of on the same playing field,” she said.
“We all came into this fairly new and untrained in everything.”
Welding instructor Wanda Leclair says watching the group of 10 dive in with such enthusiasm has been rewarding as an instructor, with no better feeling than watching a student get past the nerves and discover a new talent.
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“Fear is usually what stops you dead in your tracks, but they’re going past that,” Leclair said. “They’re going, ‘OK, I’m going to try,’ and when they do that, that stays with them.”
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Trying something new despite the fear is something that Jazmin Golia says has been invaluable to her in the program, and she’s now considering a career that had never crossed her mind.
“It’s really hard trying to get into a trade when you don’t know anything and people are asking you questions, but at least with this program now we have the knowledge,” Golia said.
“I actually came in for the heavy-duty part, but now I’m leaning towards welding.”
The program wraps up on Sep. 29, with participants then able to write apprenticeship entrance exams for their chosen field at the end of the 12 weeks.
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