Trades bursaries give Sudbury women a training boost

Industry businesses have come together to support women going into trades programming in Sudbury.

Cambrian College announced on Oct. 27 it’s awarded each of four recipients $1,000 scholarships toward their postsecondary education in the trades.

Sponsors contributing to the bursaries include Glencore, Manitoulin Transport, the Electrical Safety Authority, and IAMGOLD.

The scholarships were announced during the Sudbury college’s Jill of all Trades event, an annual day of activities geared toward girls and young women in Grades 7 to 12.

Attendees participate in hands-on workshops showcasing different trades, tour the college’s labs, and take in an address from a keynote speaker working in the trades.

The goal is to give young women a better understanding of and appreciation for the skilled trades, encouraging them to consider a career in the trades.

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Cambrian College Hosts Jill of All Trades Event on Campus

It was a week of hammering away at misconceptions about women pursuing rewarding careers in the skilled trades.

Elementary and secondary school girls from across Greater Sudbury tried their hands at various skilled trades as part of Jill of All Trades.

Today, Cambrian College hosted its annual Jill of All Trades event at its main campus in Greater Sudbury. The event was hosted in partnership with the Rainbow District School Board and the Sudbury Catholic District School Board.

“I love everything about Jill of All Trades and what it stands for,” says Paula Gouveia, Cambrian’s Vice-President Academic.  “There is a significant labour shortage in the skilled trades and gender is no barrier to filling those positions. These careers pay very well, and we want more young women to take advantage of the opportunities available in the skilled trades, now and in the foreseeable future.”

More than 150 elementary and secondary school girls from across Sudbury got first-hand experience in a variety of trades and technology, including automotive service, carpentry, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, heating and air conditioning, heavy duty equipment, mechatronics, millwright, mining engineering, powerline, and welding and metal fabrication.

“The trades offer rewarding careers for all students,” says Bruce Bourget, Director of Education for Rainbow District School Board. “I thank Cambrian College for welcoming our students into their shops to explore the possibilities in this important sector of the economy.”

“As a school board, we are committed to providing learning opportunities for young women to embrace the skilled trades and to explore the many career options available to them,” says Joanne Bénard, Director of Education for the Sudbury Catholic District School Board. “We are proud to partner with Cambrian College and others to offer this opportunity. We look forward to seeing participating students continue to push the boundary in skilled trades as a worthwhile future pathway.”

Some of the teenagers attending Jill of all Trades this year went the extra mile to get ready: make that the extra metre! They successfully completed Working at Heights training to heighten their experience.

Jill of All Trades activities at Cambrian also included a panel discussion earlier in the week featuring women currently working or preparing for careers in the skilled trades. Panelists included:

  • Zoe Duhaime, Student, Powerline Technician Program, Cambrian.
  • Natasha Faucher, Senior Director of Business Development – Mining, Minerals & Metals, Corporate, Business Development, Worley.
  • Alex Kis, 310T Mechanic, Manitoulin Transport.
  • Kendra Liinamaa, Millwright Apprentice, Vale, and a Cambrian graduate.
  • Julia Salvalaggio, Manager of Human Resources, MacLean Engineering.
  • Lea Willemse, Smelter Environmental Superintendent, Glencore.

The Women in Trades panel discussion was held this week at Cambrian College, Taking part were (left to right): Kendra Liinamaa, Vale; Zoe Duhaime, student at Cambrian College; Julia Salvalaggio, MacLean Engineering; Lea Willemse, Glencore.

“We just have to go for it, we absolutely belong in the trades, and we are needed in the trades,” said panelist Natasha Faucher, who began her career performing geophysical surveys around the world for mining companies.

“As women, we bring a different way of thinking, we don’t problem-solve the same way, and that can be an advantage.”

Cambrian College thanks its many sponsors who supported Jill of All Trades this year, including providing nearly $10,000 in scholarships for students who enroll in the skilled trades.  Cambrian College will take this a step further by offering further financial incentives for women enrolling in trade programs year-round. You can find the list of sponsors at

Cambrian College offers more than 20 trades and technology courses.

Learn more at

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Organizations working to encourage more women, girls into skilled trades

Skills Ontario to hold in-person International Day of the Girl Oct. 11 at Science North in Sudbury.

Several organizations in Sudbury are working to help encourage more women and young girls into skilled trades.

Across Canada, only about five per cent of skilled trades workers are women, according to Statistics Canada.

One of the organizations, Skills Ontario, partners with school boards, colleges, small businesses, large companies, labour groups, and governments to provide opportunities for young people to explore and develop skills for successful careers in the skilled trades and technologies.

For the first time since the pandemic began, Skills Ontario plans to hold its first in-person International Day of the Girl, planned for Oct. 11 at Science North in Sudbury. About 180 Grade 7 and 8 girls from the Sudbury area will learn about and explore job possibilities.

It includes the ‘For Girls, By Girls’ conference featuring keynote speaker Kendra Liinamaa of Sudbury, who is currently doing her apprenticeship to become a millwright. There will also be workshops that allow students to test out various trades.

Some students already have preconceived ideas about trades jobs, but this event works to change that, said Lindsay Chester, the program manager for Skills Ontario’s Young Women’s Initiatives.

“Change that stigma, change that mindset and give them an opportunity to try these different skilled trades careers and then in the end leave realizing that this is something that they are capable of doing, and then hopefully sparking enough of an interest that they continue to pursue that through high school and ultimately into a career down the road” she said.

Chester said it’s important for female students and young women first entering the trades to see visual representation of other workers like them.

“When we have the female tradeswomen, now the girls can kind of be like ‘Alright if she can do it I can do it,'” Chester said.

Cambrian College is holding a similar event at the end of this month called Jill of All Trades. Female high school students will be able to try out various trades and learn about viable career paths.

“What we try to do with this is just give them a taste of the skilled trades for a day,” said college spokesperson Dan Lessard.

Cambrian also has female instructors within its various trades programs — who become role models for the female students.

“Don’t let your perception of what you think girls can or can not do prevent you from exploring a really good career in the trades; that is going to be rewarding, is going to be challenging and quite frankly it’s going to pay you really good money,” Lessard said.

This year there are 294 female students enrolled in Cambrian’s Skilled Trades and Engineering Technology; ten more than in 2021.

Committee of tradeswomen advocating for women

In 2019, women in the industry formed the committee, Ontario Building and Construction Tradeswomen. They have more than 700 members, and advocate for the recruitment and retention of more women in the trades.

“We’ve got women from across the province, every trade, every region, every sector, we’ve got women all over the province. And we’ve got quite a lot of women up in Sudbury specifically,” said program director Kayla Bailey.

She has worked in the skilled trades for nine years as a journey-person, a steam-fitter, a welder and a gas-fitter in Toronto.

Kayla Bailey is a journeyperson, a steam-fitter, a welder and a gas-fitter in Toronto. She is also the program director for Ontario Building and Construction Tradeswomen. (Submitted by Kayla Bailey)

She said it was during a trip with her mother — who was in the trades herself — to a northern Ontario mine that changed her mind about pursuing a career in the trades.

“For me, it was life changing. I got to see the kinds of people that worked in the mine, the kinds of people that worked in the trades,” she said. “I saw a lot of people that were only a few years older than me, and they had good jobs, they had a good quality of life, they had nice cars and they had nice homes.”

Supporting fellow sisters

Bailey said prior to the formation of the Ontario Building and Construction Tradeswomen group, there was no provincial co-ordinated effort to to bring tradeswomen together.

“It also supports our fellow sisters in the trades, helping women find pathways and into registered apprenticeships and offering the soft skills training, the health and safety training and the experience, expertise needed to help women feel confident and to be successful in a male dominated industry,” Bailey said.

Bailey admits that one of the biggest barriers for women in the trades is confidence.

“It can be quite intimidating having your first job be in construction, but especially if you’re the only woman on site. We find a lot of women apprentices, they’re very nervous. They’re afraid to ask for help. They don’t want to cause a stir,” she said.

Bailey said it’s important for young women who are considering working in the trades to be encouraged by other women already in the field.

“Right now there’s such a huge labour shortage and it will not be filled by the traditional workforce that we’re seeing; It will not be filled by just white men,” Bailey said.

“So whether you’re a woman or you’re a racialized person or somebody else who doesn’t feel like you’re traditionally represented in the construction industry, you are what’s going to fill the construction industry workforce gap and there is a place for you.”

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