Windsor female high school students given chance to test skills

Read the full Windsor Star news article by Madeline Mazak

About 60 female high school students from across Windsor-Essex visited St. Clair College Wednesday to learn about life in the skilled trades.

To help inform young women in high school about careers in the skilled trades, St. Clair College hosted the Jill of All Trades event for the first time. 

Throughout the day, students had the chance to test their skills in construction, electrical, motive power, EV, and machining.

“As a high school student, it’s very hard to make a choice,” said St. Clair College’s dean of the school of Skilled Trades, Apprenticeships and Engineering Technologies Lido Zuccato.

“This is presenting the opportunity so that they have an idea of what to choose.”

Jill of All Trades was founded by Conestoga College in 2014 to help increase post-secondary enrolment in non-traditional programs in order to curb Canada’s skilled trades shortage.

Zuccato said female enrolment in the trades programs at St. Clair College “is still low, but it’s growing.”

“I would say from a percentage perspective, it’s up and down. Some trades are more than others. Like our electrical trade, I’d say we’re probably maybe at 10 to 15 per cent, some trades lower.

“The key is that it’s growing.”

He said the most important part of the day was helping students build confidence.

“To me, that is the key,” he said. “Anybody can do these trades.”

Zuccato said students learned how to weld their own tulips, which they were allowed to take home with them at the end of the day. They also tried out some electrical work by building extension cords and connecting wires.

“We’re also exposing them to other things that we have, like our carpentry lab, and our plumbing lab,” he added.

The day began after St. Clair College President Patricia France addressed the group of students.

That was followed by keynote speaker, Emily Chung, who shared her experience owning and operating an an auto repair shop in Markham.

Students from the Catholic, public, and French school boards participated.

Nearly 20 other academic institutions across the country have hosted a similar event.