Nfld. & Labrador

Trades a male-dominated industry, but instructor says 'big uprise' of female workers

A group of high school students in Happy Valley-Goose Bay tried their hands at working with heavy equipment Wednesday, as part of an event to introduce girls to skilled trades.
The skilled trades is a male-dominated field, but some female high school students had the chance to try a trade at an event in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

A group of high school students in Happy Valley-Goose Bay had the chance to work with heavy equipment Wednesday, as part of an event to introduce girls to skilled trades.

The students were at the College of the North Atlantic campus to try their hand at an industry dominated by men.

Heavy duty technician instructor Mike Best said the industry is "for sure" dominated by men, but that is started to change.

High school student Maggie Neilsen is thinking about getting into the trades after she graduates. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"In saying that, there's a big, big uprising of females entering the workforce in this trade," said Best.

According to Best, some examples of that change can be seen at the Upper Churchill and Muskrat Falls projects.

One of those future workers may be high school student Maggie Neilson.

"I'm kind of more into trades than I am into, like, something to do in university," said Neilson.

"I really like cooking and stuff so [I may pursue] something like that, but I also really like heavy equipment operating — not like the fixing part of it."

CNA instructor Mike Best says more women are getting into the trades these days. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Encouraging more women to get into the trades is something Skills Canada has been trying to accomplish.

Jess Baldwin, a program manager with Skills Canada, said she is hoping these kinds of seminars will show young girls they can work in the trades, too.

"There's still very much a stigma that skilled trades and technology, it's a man's job," said Baldwin.

"So by offering these conferences to high school girls, it may be an area that they want to consider or pursue after their high school graduation."

High school students tried their hand at a number of trades programs offered at CNA, including metal cutting. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

With files from Jacob Barker

now