The 2019 Young Women’s Conference was again hosted by Skills Canada Manitoba at the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT). Grade 9 and 10 girls from various schools attend a day-long conference where they get to explore various trades and speak to mentors working in trade industries. Many of the girls were already taking some form of vocational classes at their schools but many had never considered a trade as a viable career option.
At the start of the day, half the group went to the MITT carpentry shop where current students of the program helped the girls build children’s picnic tables (which would later be donated to daycares). Some of the girls had never held a drill before and by the end were comfortable putting in and taking out screws, and drilling holes in wood. They were genuinely beaming as their skills improved in such a short time and as their tables came closer to being completed. The carpentry student helping our group was fantastic – she was starting a new career later in life and loved teaching and helping the girls, which they all appreciated.
After lunch and their morning carpentry session, the groups became smaller to explore 2 additional trades in more detail: electrical applications, welding, motorsport, to name a few. In electrical applications, the girls used various tools and materials to wire a plug and a light together.
At the start of the conference, many of the girls were shy, and some were hesitant to even try the hands-on activities. By the end of the day, the chatter in the groups had increased and everyone seemed to be smiling and brimming with confidence. When asked about how her day was going, one girl exclaimed “I thought this would be really boring and we would just be sitting and listening – this is great!”. An MITT alumni gave a keynote speech about how she went from retail work to welding as a career and how much more independence she gained. Having a peer they could look up to gave the girls representation that they could identify with. I am thankful to have been asked to participate in this excellent conference once again and would encourage any other women with careers in trades to reach out to Skills Canada Manitoba to volunteer as a mentor.