By Megan Christensen
Skills Canada – Ontario recently held the second of two week-long all-girls Skills Work! day camps at the Frank Hasenfratz Centre for Excellence in Manufacturing.
This is the second year Leah Eckerich attended the camp, and she said she is interested in pursuing a trade after high school.
“Everything boys can do, girls can do,” she said. “Not necessarily better, but we can do it.”
There were 10 girls registered for the all-girls camp this year in Guelph.
“It’s one of the best group of girls we’ve had,” said Skills Canada school liaison officer Brie Holm. “They’ve been asking great questions, and it seems to be sinking in that there are lots of opportunities in trades.”
The first of two Skill Work! girls-only camps this summer was last month in Sudbury, where an all-boys session was also held. The rest of the 26 camps that took place across the province were mixed.
“When we first started doing the (co-ed) camps we only had one or two girls, but now we’re seeing those numbers increase,” said Holm.
Skills Work! camps are a week-long day program aimed at helping kids entering Grade 7 and 8 develop communication, problem solving and teamwork skills, said a news release.
Participants explore the world of trades through a mixture of workshops, guest speakers and industry tours, hands-on building activities and an entrepreneurial project presented to their parents on the last day of camp.
“What we are trying to do is help (campers) find their passion, and it gives them a chance to find something that they really love to do, said Holm.
“The camp dispels the myth that trades are just for boys.”
All trades are open to women, and it just depends on what they’re interested in, she said.
“The public has this misconception that the trades are just for men, but they’re not,” said instructor Matt Grime, who helped the girls try out a small automation robotic arm. “Trades are for anyone who’s capable and who’s willing to learn.”
Today, women account for half of the national workforce, but for the most part they have stayed out of the trades.
Less than three per cent of Canada’s skilled trade and technology workers are women, said a 2011 report from Skills Canada – Ontario and Women in Nuclear Canada.
Educators and the government need to value the importance of trade workers in the development of communities in our society, the report said.
These well-paying, highly technical, creative and intellectually stimulating careers need to be actively marketed to today’s young women, the report recommended.
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By Megan Christensen