Two smiling girls work together to build a birdhouse.

Girls from the York District School Board were given a glimpse of possible future careers in the skilled trades following a visit to Humber College earlier this summer.

More than 75 Grade 7 and 8 students from the York board visited Humber’s Centre for Skilled Trades and Technology to tour the campus, check out the labs – which include plumbing, carpentry, electrical, millwright, welding and more – and they got to build something.

The hope, said Michael Auchincloss, associate dean, Faculty of Applied Sciences and Technology, is that the trip will get some of the girls thinking seriously about a career in the trades. Women are increasingly entering into them, and these types of events are a way to introduce girls to this possible career, said Auchincloss.

Rania Ali was one of the students who attended. She’s thinking about becoming an engineer, although that hasn’t been decided, but wanted to learn a little more about the skilled trades.

“This is a good way to learn about potential careers and I wanted to explore all my options before choosing a career path,” said Ali. “It’s very empowering to know that these opportunities exist.”

Two smiling girls build a birdhouse together.

Many of the girls who attended didn’t know what they wanted to do for a living in the future and were intrigued by the chance to explore the trades. Maegan DaSilva was one of those students. She wasn’t sure about what her future career will be, but likes using her hands, so she was happy to know there were opportunities to do so during the trip.

The students, with a little help from Humber instructors, built birdhouses to learn more about carpentry and its tools. They also constructed hoola hoops out of piping as they learned about using the proper connectors to attach the piping together. They also were treated to a welding display.

“At the moment, I’m not sure what I’m going to do for a career, but this is a great way to figure it out,” said student Ella Small.

Student Amanda Do felt the trip was an excellent opportunity to learn about the trades and was excited to check out the welding demo.

Lynn vanLieshout is manager, Community Projects, Community Outreach and Workforce Development at Humber. She wished she had been encouraged to enter the trades as a young woman. She worked in the construction industry on the administration side but always wanted to be on a job site working with tools.

"Don't ever think the trades are something you can't do," vanLieshout told the girls.

A person wearing safety goggles and gloves uses a torch to weld metal.

Another way Humber is introducing potential students to the trades is the Pathways to the Skilled Trades program. It’s just eight weeks in length and is funded entirely by the government, so it’s offered at no cost. The program also offers employment support for individuals to get started in the trades.   

It’s intended for those who are unemployed, interested in exploring the trades and are experiencing financial hardship. It’s designed to help learners make the transition into the trades whether they’ve completed high school or not.   

Humber also offers a number of pre-apprenticeship programs including the Horticulture Technician Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program for Women as well as the Electrician Pre-Apprenticeship, Millwright/General Machinist Pre-Apprenticeship and Plumbing/Welding Pre-Apprenticeship programs. These are also free of charge to those who qualify and are designed to start students down the path towards securing a skilled trades apprenticeship.   

For more information, visit Humber’s Skilled Trades and Apprenticeships website.