Yukon University plans free course in welding for women and non-binary people

Yukon University is offering a free welding program aimed at women and non-binary people as part of a national effort to encourage underrepresented groups to get into skilled trades.

Applications currently being accepted for program which starts in May

An industrial shop. In the foreground, a woman stands holding welding tools over a work table. She has one had holding her mask above her head. In the background, another person is working.
Yukon University's welding course for women and non-binary people starts in May. (Submitted by Yukon University)

Yukon University is offering a free welding program aimed at women and non-binary people as part of a national effort to encourage underrepresented groups to get into the trade.

The course will be offered starting this spring, in partnership with Yukon Women in Trades and Technology (YWITT). Successful applicants will have their tuition covered and will also get help with other fees, like rent and childcare. 

Liz Peredun, YWITT's executive director, said helping with expenses allows students to put the focus and energy on the work itself.

"Creating spaces of belonging helps realize potential and competence," she said. "Students can really focus on, you know, the benefits that can come from well-paying trades work without having to go into a deficit in care responsibilities or living expenses."

Increase in programs for women

It's not the first time a program like this has been offered in the territory.

Jeff Wolosewich, head of Yukon University's Department of Trades and Technology, said the university started offering similar courses in the past few years, including a pre-apprenticeship course in carpentry and a two-week welding course.

That came after YWITT released a report in 2019, Making it Work, which showed women in trades wanted more mentorship and training programs geared toward them.

"We thought we should just start running more programs that are meant for women," Wolosewich said. "To ensure that we're running programs where they feel safer, where they know that they can have a sense of belonging."

A sign reading, 'Yukon University Ayamdigut Campus' is seen in front of a building and a row of flags.
Yukon University's Ayamdigut Campus in Whitehorse. The university hopes a free course in welding will help get more women and non-binary people involved in the trade. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

While the university will run the course and the training, YWITT will administer the wraparound supports.

"It's especially good for the students because they have another connection to another group of supports, and a whole new network of people, tradespeople that are there to ensure that they can succeed in their career," Wolosewich said.

The program is one of several offered through a national non-profit organization, CWB Welding Foundation, which supports similar programs across the country. 

Mary Fuke, the organization's program manager, says courses like the one to be offered in the Yukon are great starting places for people wanting to get into the trades.

"They may actually not go into welding, but they'll go into a related career where they can actually use those skills," Fuke said. "So maybe a boiler maker or an iron worker as well. We want to make sure that they have the skills that they need to be able to go forward and find a career that they can actually stay in and be in and be happy with."

Since pre-apprenticeship programs like these have been offered in the territory, Peredun said she's seen more women enter into apprenticeship programs. The next step will be to make sure people stay in their trade after they've completed the training.

"More and more employers and business owners are talking about looking for resources, to change their workplace culture," Peredun said. "We take movement as part of a greater picture."

Applications for the program are currently being accepted. Interested students must attend an information session, several of which are scheduled for March, before they apply. The course begins in May.


Leslie Amminson is a reporter for CBC Yukon based in Whitehorse. She previously worked as a journalist in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. You can reach Leslie with story tips and ideas at