Sherry Holmes is in Windsor to attract more girls to skilled trades
'It is intimidating, it can be scary, and it is a male-dominated industry, so sometimes that’s a deterrent'
Getting high school girls to consider careers in the skilled trades can be a challenge — one that will be met head-on at a Build a Dream event at the Ciociaro Club on Thursday.
The event will see more than 1,000 guests, teenaged girls and their parents, come together to learn about career opportunities in skilled trades, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), law enforcement and entrepreneurship — and the keynote speaker will be contractor and co-host of Holmes Next Generation Sherry Holmes.
"It's very exciting," said Nour Hachem-Fawaz, the president and founder of Build a Dream, an organization which encourages and empowers female students to pursue non-traditional careers.
You can't be what you can't see- Nour Hachem-Fawaz
"We believe at Build a Dream that in order for young women to make informed career decisions they need to be presented all options," she said.
"In our event, our goal is to present them the options where women are significantly underrepresented and to create an environment where it's very easy and exciting and fun to start exploring different career avenues."
The event is in its fourth year. It's working to tackle some of the barriers that exist for women in a range of male-dominated fields, while also inspiring young girls by bringing out female role models like Holmes to share their journeys.
"You can't be what you can't see," Hachem-Fawaz said.
'We need skilled trade workers'
Holmes said she'd like to try and open some minds at the event.
She mentioned that often, the reason why more girls don't consider careers in the trades, is simply a lack of knowledge of what they can do and accomplish in the field.
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"We need skilled trade workers. I think women are a little bit afraid sometimes, as I was. It is intimidating, it can be scary, and it is a male-dominated industry, so sometimes that's a deterrent."
Holmes admitted that she herself was initially fearful of pursuing work in construction because she didn't want to fail.
"I was afraid because it was mostly men, and I wasn't sure what they would think of me, but I was also afraid of trying something that I could utterly fail at and just embarrass myself."
But she's hoping that through her keynote speech, she can encourage girls to not be afraid.
"I think the biggest thing I want to pass on to all of them and I hope they take from me is be open-minded, try everything, every opportunity you can, because this could be it for you, you could absolutely love it."
'Your children will be working'
The goal of the event is to not only reach girls — but also to reach their parents.
"We believe that it's important for parents to receive the same information that young women are receiving in the same room at the same time," Hachem-Fawaz explained.
"Because in that way, they're able to go back home and have an informed discussion amongst each other."
Holmes, whose father is TV host and home maintenance expert Mike Holmes, acknowledged that parents can be a huge influence in a young person's career choices.
She added that parents are becoming more and more open to supporting work in the trades because they're understanding the opportunities available to their kids.
"It is a great financial decision, these jobs are in demand, so your children will be working."
According to Hachem-Fawaz, the industry itself plays a big role when it comes to diversifying the workforce.
She said having stakeholders come to the event is crucial to bridging the skilled trade shortage, while also providing women an opportunity to explore these different career paths.
In addition to Holmes, there will be a panel discussion and about 50 exhibitors at the event.
With files from Windsor Morning and Katerina Georgieva