Women in Trades | Credit Unions of BC


[mechanical noises] I’m Nicole Lees and I’m a plumber. [mechanical noises] My name’s Lindy Monahan. I developed a joinery program for Okanagan College. Safer the better, right? [mechanical noises] The Women in Trades Training initiative is a program to help women have access to careers in the skill trade. [mechanical noises] We run two streams of training – the first one is kind of an exploratory. You get to try six or seven different trades so once you’ve been able to try a few different things, then you can choose electrical, plumbing, carpentry. I started the program thinking there’s no way I’m going to be a plumber. Nicole thought she was going to be a carpenter. It was a 12 week course, the last week was plumbing and I just thought it was really interesting. And that was it. She turned 180 degrees. She was going to be a plumber. Because they didn’t talk about unclogging toilets or anything. [music playing] Every day is different, some days I’ll be roughing in the house doing ABS drainage and other days I could be replacing a leaking hot water tank. Retention in that first year on the job is really becoming an emerging issue. The reason the women aren’t sticking with it is because they feel unsupported. That’s why it’s so important that we provide the mentorship piece and help them to connect with someone whose experienced in the trade. The mentorship relationship is a cooperative relationship. We approached the credit union because we’re looking for those type of cooperative relationships in our community. We asked them if they would want to support our local initiative and help the young women get them connected with those valuable industry mentors. I can see that there is a real need for somebody to give some guidance to these young women. She’s probably helped hundreds of women become tradespeople. Women bring a diversity to the job sites, whether it’s problem-solving, communications. Being a woman on the job site, you definitely can’t worry about how you look and what your nails are going to look like, you got to be prepared to work just as hard and get just as dirty. One of the biggest fears that guys have when they see women is that, “Am I going to have to do her work?” And really, they just want to see that you’re capable of doing your job. [mechanical noises] The first year of working was definitely hard physically, and then mentally as well. I had never used half of the tools in my life. I’ve used a hand drill but then there were so many others things, I was like woah… Lindy was a great mentor. She’s got that experience and that history so you can ask her what to expect and we all are learners and we all are teachers and we really try to instil that through our programs right from the start. I met Nicole when she first started her ELTT program. She’s smart and she’s eager to learn. That’s why we hold her up as a role model for the new women coming in because she’s just done so well for herself in a few short years. I’m just there to help. Gotta give back to what they gave me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without any of the women and tradespeople.

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