On the week of International Women’s Day, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance Joël Lightbound got an inside look at the world of women in skilled trades as he toured Niagara College’s Welland Campus.
On March 7, Parliamentary Secretary Lightbound, as well as MP for Niagara Centre Vance Badawey and MP for St. Catharines Chris Bittle, met with five female Niagara College students in NC’s Welding, Motive Power, Carpentry and Renovation, and Pre-Apprenticeship programs to hear their unique experiences studying and working in trades traditionally dominated by men.
“It’s difficult, because you’re up against a stigma,” said second-year Carpentry & Renovation Technician student Breanna Kovacs. “I wouldn’t say I’m any less capable than any of my other co-students – I think there needs to be more promotion of just how capable we are.”
The discussion was joined by second-year Motive Power student Christenah D’Archi, Eletrical Pre-Apprenticeship student Altheia Mills, and Welding Techniques and Technician students Shannon Molloy and Melissa Hingston, all of whom shared their stories demonstrating the strong role women can play in Canada’s trades.
Parliamentary Secretary Lightbound also discussed the measures announced in the Federal Government’s 2018 budget intended to encourage and support more women entering skilled trades. “There’s a lot of work to be done, and in this year’s budget, there’s a recognition that there are prejudices and barriers that need to be shattered,” he said.
The 2018 budget includes $20 million to help increase female representation in male-dominated red-seal trades as a new Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women.
Following the discussion, dignitaries were treated to a welding demonstration in the Rankin Technology Centre’s Welding Lab, by second-year Welding Technician student Shannon Molloy and first-year Welding Techniques student Melissa Hingston.
Hingston, who before entering the program had never welded before, showed off the skills she has learned for PS Lightbound and MP Bittle. “It was a little scary on the first day, especially not knowing how to turn on any of the machinery, when all of my co-students already knew that, but now, it’s like second-nature to me,” said Hingston.
Meanwhile, Shannon Molloy allowed MP Vance Badawey to try his hand welding a few beads. Shannon has been welding since she was seven years old. “I love it, I just love it,” she said.