Trade HERizons, a program for women interested in careers in trades and technology, held its graduation ceremony recently.
Supporters, friends, and family were on hand to watch 15 women celebrate a new chapter in their lives as they plan for new future careers.
“I’m so pleased to have our graduates here at our seventh Trade HERizons program since 2010,” says Sara Roach Lewis, Executive Director of Women’s Network PEI.
“This program is an opportunity and a model for women to transition from poverty into a sustainable livelihood,” says Sara. “Traditional male-dominated occupations pay more than traditional women’s occupations. This program is a process that will get you there, and it can change your life, if you work really hard.
“Almost 150 women have been through this program, and we see the results. Since Trade HERizons started, the number of women in Holland College programs in trades and industrial technology has doubled. Also, attachment to apprenticeship programs on PEI had been pretty steady for the last 20 years at .5 percent. In the last seven years, we are almost up to five percent.”
Partners who support the Trade HERizons project
Sharon Cameron, Deputy Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning, delivered comments on behalf of the province.
“You graduates are real pioneers. Make sure you continue to support one another. We have a lot of respect for our male counterparts, and we learn from them as well, but I think women bring a different perspective to the workplace.
“The most important gift you can give to yourself or someone else is to find a mentor. Find someone who you can reach out to who will pull you through. We all have those days when we feel like we can’t take another step, but a network can help. Stay connected, stay supported, and all the best on your journey.”
“All across Canada, the need for women in the trades is huge,” says Michelle Harris-Genge, Director of the Interministerial Women’s Secretariat. “It is encouraging that women are part of an industry that was not open to women not long ago.”
Address on behalf of the 2016 cohort: Leah Landin, Participant
We have learned so many new things in 12 weeks, and have also made a bunch of new friends, who I would consider my new-found sisters.
We have done some pretty amazing things! We climbed a 25-foot tree just so we could walk, on a suspended wire, across to another tree. We did skills building and determined our learning styles. We did Math, and that was a scary word for many of us! We learned how to write amazing resumés and cover letters. We talked to some inspirational guest speakers and women in the trades. We went to some really cool expos and we learned how to network!
This program has brought so many new experiences and opportunities into our lives, but most of all it has brought self-awareness and has taught us to do the unthinkable. It has taught us to be comfortable and confident in ourselves.
To acknowledge that wanting to do better is not selfish or far-fetched, but that it is achievable. We learned that we have the opportunity to be successful in a “man’s world” is not an “out of this world” idea but it is readily available at our finger tips.
We all wanted better for ourselves but didn’t have the confidence to do it, or maybe we didn’t know where to start.
Now we know who we are, what we like, what we don’t like, what we want for the future. We know that failing is an opportunity to open doors we didn’t know existed, and to use those doors to pick ourselves back up and raise ourselves higher.
We know what steps to take to get where we want to be. We know the right people to contact and questions to ask. And we know that building ourselves up isn’t selfish. It’s called confidence. We all have different strengths, and selling those strengths to get that job you want or to get into that program you want isn’t wrong – it’s smart. We are smart intelligent women who are capable of anything!
Trade HERizons is not just about making friends, or welding for the day or putting together a light switch. It’s not only about finding a new-found love for math or realizing that maybe working in a group isn’t the end of the world. It’s not just about understanding that even though we are all from different walks of life, we are all on the same page, we are all here to be more successful, and we care about everyone’s success.
We’re not confident because we built something, or because we got good grades on our math sheets, or because we welded our names on a plaque, or because we soldered some pipes together in plumbing – even though those things were awesome and we totally rocked it.
We’re confident because we had amazing people surrounding us, who filled us with positivity and encouragement, who believed in us even when we didn’t believe in ourselves. Those people supported us every minute of every day, and now we know our worth, and why we are all changing our lives for the best.
For more about Trade HERizons, visit www.wnpei.org/trade-herizons.
Funded in whole or in part through the Canada/PEI Labour Market Development Agreement and the
Canada-PEI Job Fund.