Tracy Fedorowich SK Welder
Tradeswoman SK, Tradeswoman Stories

Tracy Fedorowich, Welder

A Strong Message  

Tracy Fedorowich, a welder in Saskatchewan, has a message for women working in the trades: Never give up. 

“I want to say to other women out there, who are trying to get their careers off the ground working in the trades, to not give up because there are people and organizations out there that want to see you succeed too!”

Out from Behind the Desk

Before becoming a welder, Tracy spent seven years working in an office, feeling unfulfilled and knowing she was destined for something different. With a lot of hard work, a little advice from family, and some direction from a couple of great organizations, she’s now living her own advice and making a good living as a welder. 

Finding her Place

“I realized I would rather be working at a job that was more physical and challenging, where I felt like I could really put my skills to use and feel proud of the work I was doing,” Tracy says of her last days in her previous office job. 

However, once she completed her applied welding certificate she was eager to work, but found it tough to find a job. She saw job opportunities everywhere, but it seemed her lack of experience was holding her back. 

“I had applied to many jobs and had not received an interview or even a call back, at times it got to be very discouraging,” she says. 

A Word of Encouragement

As Tracy struggled to find work, she discussed her challenges with her sister, a third year plumber who was working in Vancouver, who suggested reaching out to the Office to Advance Women Apprentices. Tracy jumped at the opportunity, calling the office immediately and making an appointment to talk with the staff members.

“They were so helpful and understanding of what I was experiencing trying to find my first job being a woman in a male dominated industry,” Tracy says. “These ladies and this organization jumped on the ball for me to help find work and encouraged me to not give up on working in the trades. They reached out to many contacts and helped me land my first job with the Boilermakers Local 555 in Regina.”

Representation Matters 

Joining the union has helped jumpstart Tracy’s career. She says the union sees the potential in her and the people there have encouraged her to succeed in her career. As a member, she’s been able to travel for work and make a good living she couldn’t in another field. 

Reach Out 

If Tracy’s experiences feel familiar, reach out to the Office to Advance Women Apprentices. We can help you find work, prepare for testing, and even help you find a mentor in your field. 

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Renee Yetman
Tradeswoman MB, Tradeswoman Stories

Renee Yetman, Construction

More than Just a Job Hunt

In Manitoba, not unlike elsewhere in the country, women make up approximately three percent of the skilled construction trades workforce. While this number is relatively low today, the interest among women in these under-represented trades is increasing. The Office to Advance Women Apprentices was first launched in Manitoba in March of 2019 to serve the needs of tradeswomen in the province. Women like Renee Yetman, a Level 2 Carpenter, have found their way to the office and are taking advantage of the many services offered.

Word of Mouth

Renee first heard of the Office to Advance Women Apprentices from a colleague while working on the Keeyask Project, a hydroelectric generating station project in northern Manitoba. Initially she reached out to the office to find additional support in the construction industry and to help further her goal to become a Red Seal Carpenter.

Women’s Experiences

Growing up in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation in northern Manitoba, Renee had always enjoyed working with her hands. She found work with a drywall company and enjoyed the physicality of the work. When things started to slow down and she learned she would be laid off, she took the opportunity to research and explore the possibility of a career in the trades. 

“I had thought about electrical or welding,” says Renee, “I did some research into the trades that would be of interest to me. I looked to women who were already working in the trades and learned about their experiences.”

Stepping Stones and Big Goals

One other major goal she had was to attain her Grade 12 diploma. Renee reached out to Workplace Education Manitoba in Brandon, Manitoba where she was living. Through WEM, she was able to enroll in an academic upgrading program at Assiniboine Community College which resulted in her becoming a high school graduate. Well on her way to the next career goal, Renee found Westbran Employment Resource Centre which offered an introduction to trades program. This seven-month program gives participants the opportunity to gain experience with basic hand and power tools and exposure to carpentry related skills. This experience helped Renee to make the decision to go forward in the carpentry trade at Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology where she attained her level one.

Setbacks and Steps Forward

Not long after registering with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices in 2019, Renee suffered an injury which made it difficult to work in her trade. During her rehabilitation she took a position with the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development.

“It was a good experience working in the office, but I missed using my hands and being more physical,” Renee says. “Carpentry allows me to see the fruits of my labour and feel a sense of pride in what I’ve helped to create.”

When she was ready to return to the construction field, Renee reached out to the office in an effort to help her find work in spring of 2020. Andrea, the project co-ordinator, met with Renee to review her experience, her resume, and to talk about employment opportunities. 

“We really strive to understand the needs of the tradeswomen we work with, learn about what they have to offer an employer and help her get her foot in the door with a great resume and interview skills,” Andrea says.

Trading Up!

At the recent Manitoba Women in Trades Conference, Andrea was able to connect with employers in the industry, including John Bockstael of Bockstael Construction Ltd. She reached out to them to see if there were any opportunities for a Level 2 carpenter like Renee and all three scheduled a time to meet virtually to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions around in person meetings. 

“We used a video conferencing app to connect one evening, spending 90 minutes doing interview prep,” Andrea says. “In our interview prep sessions with tradeswomen we talk about some common pitfalls to avoid in an interview, tips and advice for selling her skills to the employer, and focusing on specific questions that may be asked in an interview. Doing interview preparation in advance of the interview has really shown to help our clients bring focus to all the skills and experience in order to concisely and confidently demonstrate why she is the best candidate for the job.”

Welcome to the Family

Renee is now a proud member of the Bockstael family. She was warmly welcomed, works with a good crew, and appreciates the company’s focus on safety. 

“To women thinking of joining the trades just go for it … don’t let anything hold you back,” Renee says. 

While the initial goal for Office to Advance Women Apprentices is to connect clients with work in their trade, that’s never where the story ends. 

“We support retention by connecting with both the employer and the tradeswoman on a regular basis,” says Andrea. “We want to ensure if there are any challenges, we are there to help and provide any support necessary to facilitate a positive employment experience.

“All the support we offer and the work we do is the culmination of more than 11 years of experience and know-how built by the Office to Advance Women Apprentices Newfoundland and Labrador.”

It’s Your Turn  

Wondering how you can find support from people like Andrea and become a success story like Renee? Register with our office and discover a world of possibilities and the support to get you there!

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Candice Gibson NS Welder | OAWA
Tradeswoman NS, Tradeswoman Stories

Candice Gibson, Welder

Coast to Coast and Beyond!

When Candice Gibson Red Seal Welder found herself back in Nova Scotia with family after many years in western Canada, she connected with the Nova Scotia Office to Advance Women Apprentices to get some local leads for employment. She never imagined her dream job was just around the corner! Now, Candice is working her second ‘offshore hitch’ on an offshore crane vessel off Cape Sable Island.

Journey West to Red Seal

Candice started her journey about seven years ago when she moved to Alberta where she became a welder. Working in the oil patch and apprenticing through her levels, she obtained her Red Seal certification in welding. Candice eventually owned her own crew truck and earned her place amongst her peers as a good welder who could get the job done in a tough and rugged industry dominated by men.

Home to Nova Scotia – My Sea Bound Coast…

“Life has a way of putting us on our right path,” reflects Candice.”Even though moving home to Nova Scotia was exciting it was a turbulent time in my life. I was facing unemployment for the first time in a very long time. I had sold my rig truck out west to move home. I had some savings but they were dwindling. I needed to find work, but I didn’t have many contacts in Nova Scotia. My friend Sarah told me about the Office to Advance Women Apprentices and told me to call Daphne. I am so glad I did!

“The Office to Advance Women Apprentices gave me insight into opportunities in Nova Scotia that I didn’t know existed and one of the options was with the union representing piping trades in Canada – UA Local 56. Daphne connected me and UA asked me to come into their training facility to demonstrate my skills. I did what I know I’m good at! I welded! The better I welded the more challenges UA put in front of me!,”  laughs Candice. “I was happy to be performing on their welding challenges and they seemed impressed that I was doing it!”

Sure! I work Offshore!

“The Office to Advance Women Apprentices stayed in touch with me every step of the way and was always there cheering me on, even when I sometimes questioned myself. UA has an incredible training space and team and I was happy to be honing my skills. I was successful in advancing my welding skills and tickets beyond what I imagined. I never thought I would have the chance for unionized work as a welder and now I am beginning my second offshore hitch. I am proud to be welding on the second largest semi-submersible crane vessel in the world off the coast of Sable Island. This is my dream job and I owe a lot to the staff at Office to Advance Women Apprentices and UA for helping me get here!”

Inspired by Candice’s Journey? 

Find out how you too can achieve your goals and get a job in your chosen trade, register with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices. We’re here to help.Register today!

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Melissa Smith Carpenter | OAWA PEI
Tradeswoman PE, Tradeswoman Stories

Melissa Smith, Carpenter

Dreams Do Come True

Melissa Smith always wanted to be a carpenter; she wanted to make things with her hands. Her career path didn’t start out that way, but she’s well on her way to her goal now with the support of her family, friends, and the Office to Advance Women Apprentices.

Future on the HERizon

Melissa graduated with a diploma in business administration, but a downturn in the economy left her working in hotels; behind the front desk and adding shifts in housekeeping to keep her going. She spent several years working seasonally in hospitality, applying for jobs, and caring for her son, but she just wasn’t seeing her life progress the way she wanted.
“A friend from work suggested applying for Trade HERizons. I applied, was accepted, enjoyed the program, graduated, and applied to Holland College for Heritage Retrofit Carpentry,” Melissa says. “In May 2016 I graduated and decided to take the one-year certificate in Wood Manufacturing/Cabinet Making to hone my skills. I wanted to do Finish Carpentry!”

A Bumpy Road

Since her graduation there have been a few bumps in the road for Melissa. She tried working at one manufacturing shop, but wasn’t a good fit. Her second job was a dream come true, but was a long commute which ate up much of her salary and affected how much time she could spend with her family. Once again, Melissa found herself behind the front desk at the hotel trying to catch up on bills.

“At this point I was rather defeated and had almost given up on my carpentry dreams. Another friend suggested I go talk to the Carpenters Union (Local 1338). I went in one day just to talk and see what it was about,” she says, “When I left, I had signed up and joined. It hasn’t been all sunshine and roses as I always seem to be fighting to prove myself.”

Her Inspiration

But she continues to work, and is receiving guidance and support from the Office to Advance Women Apprentices. In January she was successful with her first block and is now a second-year carpenter apprentice. Her goal is to get that Red Seal certification in carpentry, followed by cabinetmaking, and later open her own business where she would focus on finish work, building furniture, and stairs.

“Ultimately, I would love to share my knowledge and skills with other women in the field. It would be awesome to have a crew of women all learning and working together,” she says.
But most importantly, Melissa wants to serve as a hardworking role model for her son.

“Each day I show up to work is a day that shows I don’t give up and I’ll keep fighting for the right to be equal.”

What’s Your Dream

To find out how to achieve your dreams and get a job in your chosen trade, connect with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices who can provide you with direction on a career in the trades, connect you with a tradeswoman mentor, and guide you on your trades career path.

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Jackie Frampton Electrician | OAWA NL
Tradeswoman NL, Tradeswoman Stories

Jackie Frampton, Electrician

Start With A Single Step

Break down the words journeyperson and you’re perfectly describing Jackie Frampton’s experience in getting her Red Seal as an electrician. Jackie’s story is one with setbacks and successes, but her hard work has paid off.

A Little Help from Her Friends

Jackie began her career after her pre-apprenticeship at a major industrial project in Newfoundland and Labrador, but quickly realized travelling to a job site or living in a camp wasn’t going to work with her lifestyle. She has a family and for her, her children’s well-being came first. That meant going back to the drawing board to find the right work experience for her.

Jackie got in touch with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices who found her employment where she could gain lots of experience, while being able to go home to her family each evening.

“The work was great when it was plentiful, and at times I struggled to find further employment to gain all of my hours. But with patience, and determination, and support, I was successful and went about my challenge to get my Red Seal” Jackie says.

Facing the Test

The Red Seal exam was Jackie’s next challenge. She worked hard, studied in all her spare time, but the first time she sat for the exam she wasn’t successful.

“I did not give up, however,” she says. “I reached out and got assistance wherever I could – speaking with my Apprenticeship Development Officer, taking a Journeyperson Prep course offered through the Office to Advance Women Apprentices, getting advice from other electricians, etc. I was persistent and determined that I was going to pass that exam, and now am very proud to hold my Red Seal as a Journeyperson Electrician.”

Hard Work Pays Off

Jackie’s journey to her Red Seal took hard work and determination, but she also credits the support system she built through her employers, the Office to Advance Women Apprentices, her various employers and Industrial Training for helping her reach her goal. She says she also had a great group of co-workers who propped her up, watched out for her, and took her under their wing.

“Not only did I get my Red Seal, but by example I showed my kids that you have to work for what you want, that at times it is a struggle, but to never give up on your dreams …. and I got my ideal job in my field!”

From Struggle to Success

Inspired by Jackie’s journey? Find out how to achieve your goals and get a job in your chosen trade, register with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices. We’re here to help.

To register, select the applicable office in the footer section below. Once on that page select the REGISTER tab.

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