Breaking down barriers for women entering the trades is the focus of a new partnership between Camosun College and Vancouver Island University (VIU).
The Camosun / VIU partnership will extend the reach of the Women in Trades Training (WITT) program to women who were previously outside of the catchment area. Camosun and VIU Cowichan will offer supports for two streams of training: Women-only Trades Sampler Program as well as trades Pre-Apprenticeship (Foundation) or Apprenticeship programs.
Women have historically faced barriers to the trades, including financial restrictions, family responsibilities, gender bias, working hours, peer support and not knowing where to start.
“There’s a continuous need for organizations in the trades training system to ensure that more women see the trades as a viable career and professional pathway,” says Lisa Langevin, Director of Women in Trades, Industry Training Authority. “It’s great to see this partnership between Camosun and VIU to improve access to the Women in Trades Training program. Increasing the participation of women will also benefit the industry, who are struggling to find a skilled workforce for upcoming demands.”
The WITT program includes life skills, essential skills, industry-recognized certificates, networking and mentoring opportunities with financial supports for tuition and Personal Protective Equipment. Other supports may be available based on individual needs assessments.
“The Women in Trades Training program offers a clear pathway for eligible women of all ages and backgrounds who want a career in the skilled trades,” says Sarah-Jayne Roe, coordinator of the Women in Trades Training program at Camosun College. “By working together, we can break down some of the barriers that have resulted in a low representation of women in the trades on Vancouver Island.”
The Camosun/VIU WITT partnership addresses the low representation of women in Red Seal and provincial trades for the Vancouver Island/Coast Region. The region encompasses urban, rural, remote and isolated communities that contain various industries both large and small; however, many are facing significant skilled worker shortages.
“There are viable career options in the trades for non-traditional learners including female and Indigenous students, and other opportunities for them as well as for international students, in the applied technology sector,” says Glynis Steen, Dean, VIU Faculty of Trades and Applied Technology. “What many might not realize is that while hard labour can be involved in these careers, it’s not just about banging nails into wood – there’s a lot of problem-solving and technical skills required to become a successful tradesperson in this day and age.”
This WITT partnership is exceptional in that the collaboration between Camosun and VIU and represents more than 25 career pathways for participants. Camosun and VIU have been successfully offering training programs in the skilled trades areas, for several decades, which are under-represented by women.
“With this unique partnership, we will now be able to expand the reach of the program to enable access for women previously out of catchment areas,” adds Roe.
Funding for the Women in Trades Training (WITT) is provided through the Canada–British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement through Industry Training Authority (ITA).
To learn more about the Women in Trades Training (WITT) program at Camosun and VIU, eligibility to apply and funding requirements, please visit:
Camosun College is one of the largest public colleges in British Columbia, established in 1971, with campuses located on the traditional territories of the Lkwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples. The college serves 19,000 learners a year in certificate, diploma, bachelor’s degree, post-degree diploma and continuing education programs.
Vancouver Island University
Vancouver Island University is a comprehensive post-secondary institution located on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Situated on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples, VIU’s main campus is in Nanaimo with regional campuses in Duncan and Powell River and a centre in Parksville. About 14,500 full-time and part-time students are enrolled in academic, applied, career/technical, vocational, trades and developmental programs leading to certificates, diplomas and degrees.
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