We Belong Together:
Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador and Office to Advance Women Apprentices
A good partnership is all about the give and take, communication, mutual support, and respect. That’s exactly why the ongoing relationship between The Office to Advance Women Apprentices and Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador is so strong today.
Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador is an organization committed to encouraging youth to follow their passions, achieve excellence, and showing them one path, which offers rewarding careers with life-long learning, in the skilled trades and technology route. This mission, of course, aligns with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices Newfoundland and Labrador’s mandate to help women discover and succeed in the skilled trades.
Perfectly in Sync
Karen Walsh, executive director of the Office to Advance Women Apprentices, says Skills Canada was a natural partner when her office got involved with them more than a decade ago.
“They have been our strongest link to our connection to young women interested in exploring a career in skilled trades.” Karen says, describing the lengthy list of programming and initiatives the two organizations have worked on together, from the annual Skills Canada national competitions, to hands-on learning experiences for girls throughout the province, to the more recent Trades Teasers program. Karen has also sat on past boards of Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador and recently, Mary Ford from the office has taken a board position as well.
“It has been meaningful for Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador to partner with the Office to Advance Women Apprentices as it has helped propel our programming especially towards young women. This partnership has helped enable us to achieve our mission and achieve our goals of getting more women into skilled trades careers,” says Christine Greene, chair of the board of directors for Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador.
Side by Side
Christine says the two organizations are very aligned and the office has been extremely helpful in finding mentors – women in the trades – who will speak with young women at their conferences, Girl Guide groups, and other events.
Karen’s fondest memories of the partnership with Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador are from the annual Skilled Work for Women Conferences – now called Skilled Futures For Women – where the two organizations travel together across the province to bring together women in the trades and young female students for discussions and demonstrations of the trades.
“That was the big connect! Connecting with girls in high school, bringing them to trades colleges, and our women were basically the face of it. (The students) worked with them on the tools in the morning, they spoke to the girls, the girls had a chance to ask all sorts of questions, and some women, as a result of those, went on to have careers in the trades,” Karen says.
“Most recently Skills Canada has been a big partner with us in pushing out to the Girl Guides and to the school system our Trades Teasers.”
Trades Teasers filled a particular kind of niche for both organizations, Christine says, as the pandemic meant travel was restricted and mentors couldn’t physically visit with students.
Virtually Immersive Learning
“One of the ways that we engage with youth is providing immersive learning experiences,” she says, “So, before covid we were doing in-class presentations, in-person workshops and those include things like teaching Girl Guides how to build memory boxes or teaching community groups to wire a circuit to get a light bulb to turn on.”
She says, the virtual model works extremely well and the Skills Canada impact has actually grown because of it.
“The virtual model works extremely well and the Skills Canada impact has remained strong throughout the pandemic. We have been able to use virtual methods to our advantage,” she says. “Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador has been able to grow in the variety of ways we reach youth. We are doing more Trade Teasers and mentorship panels. It is a great opportunity to show these young girls that there are many valid career paths which include working with your hands.”
Looking for a Partner?
The success of the partnership between the office and Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador will hopefully continue for years to come. Are you looking for a partner who complements your mission? We are. If you think you can help the Office to Advance Women Apprentices reach more women, reach out. We’re always happy to chat!