© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MARY MACKAY
Rose Crane, who is a Red Seal construction electrician, has been hired by Women’s Network P.E.I. to facilitate the Trade HERizon’s career exploration course for women, which has two 11-week sessions; the first starts at the end of September and the second in January 2014.
That perfect career match might just be around the corner for some Prince Edward Island women.
And the upcoming 11-week Trade HERizons career exploration course is like speed dating for women interested in non-traditional careers.
This program, which is offered by Women’s Network P.E.I. (WNPEI), is a prime opportunity for participants to explore non-traditional trades they can pursue in the future, such as plumbing, welding, aircraft gas engine technician, electrician, wind turbine technician and more.
“Women don’t often have a chance to try their hands at traditional trades for men. Through our partnership with Holland College, our participants can spend time in different programs and try out different trades,” says Catherine Ronahan, Trade HERizons project manager.
The first HERizons career exploration course, which is funded through Skills P.E.I. of the Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning, was held in 2010.
“One of the areas that we work in is social justice, moving women from poverty to a sustainable livelihood. So this fits within our mandate of the work that we do,” Ronahan says of WNPEI.
The no-cost program is now an 11-week career exploration course that is open to women, typically from ages 22 to 45. They can be EI eligible or non-EI eligible. For those without EI or income support, there is a stipend available.
This year for the first time, tradeswoman facilitator Rose Crane will be there to help participants as they embark upon their trades’ exploration journey.
Crane got her start as an electrician when she joined the air force in 1981.
“When I went to work (later) in the Canadian frigate program, there were thousands of people working there and we had 13 tradeswomen. And we were trailblazers and what we did and how we acted really set the stage for women getting into the trades behind us. Once we earned the respect of the men on our crews and hauled our own weight, we were just one of the gang. And we just carried that forward . . . ,” she says.
“We were introducing and educating men to working with women as well.”
After leaving the armed forces, Crane became an accountant and then applied for a position with a Maritime shipbuilding company.
“When I went in for my interview with Irving Shipbuilding to work in the accounting department they saw my past history and their human resource person, Irene Schell, explained the apprenticeship program to me and I said, “Where do I sign up?’
“So I made a lateral transfer within the company six months later and went into the apprenticeship program. Five years later I had my Red Seal and I was good to go,” says Crane, who in 1994 became the first woman on P.E.I. to be licensed as an electrical contractor.
The Trade HERizons program, which is funded in whole or in part through the Canada-P.E.I. Labour Market Development Agreement and the Labour Market Agreement, has two upcoming full-time 11-week courses: one starts at the end of September and the other in January 2014.
This introduction to non-traditional trades includes six hands-on visits to Holland College, three of which are pre-selected — gas turbine engines, precision machining, welding — which are because of market demand and past successes of women in these trades and technologies.
The remaining three trade introductions will be the ones that top the participants’ choice list.
“But then we will try to as much as we can have a diversity of places that we will visit (that pertain to other non-traditional trades/industrial technology career options beyond those six) . . . ,” Ronahan says.
“We will also include some tradeswomen as guest speakers, employer site visits so they get the exposure that way. Then in addition to that we will (for the first time) be doing a small build with Habitat for Humanity so they will get to experience hands-on some of the construction trades.”
The Trade HERizons program is an opportunity for women to see if a non-traditional career choice is the right fit for them.
One past participant, who was keen to get into the field of industrial technology, got a taste of it through the program and realized the hours and the travel required for that career choice did not fit into her lifestyle as a busy single mom with small children.
“It was devastating to her, but she reviewed another trade and now has a red seal in that trade,” Ronahan says.
“Hopefully, what (the training course) will do is give the participants enough exposure so that they say, ‘Yes, I am made for the trades and now I just need to decide which one is best for me.’ ”
AT A GLANCE
Trade HERizons is a project designed to increase the number of women in non-traditional trades and technology occupations on P.E.I. Women’s Network P.E.I. supports unemployed and underemployed women explore, prepare for, obtain and maintain employment in the trades and industrial technology fields. Additionally, WNPEI works with employers to create a culture of diversity in the workplace, which supports women’s full participation in non-traditional workplaces.
If you are a woman and are looking for a new or challenging career, enjoy working with your hands to create things (crafts, needlework, puzzles, etc.), prefer moving around in your job rather than sitting behind a desk, then consider a career in the trades.
Trade HERizons is offering two 11-week, full-time free courses. One starts the end of September 2013 and the other will get underway the beginning of January 2014.
For more information, contact Women's Network P.E.I. (WNPEI). Call Catherine Ronahan at 368-5040 or toll free 1-888-362-7373 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.