A unique program at Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools (NLPS) encourages young women to consider a career path in the trades through hands-on learning. The Careers Technical Center (CTC) in School District 68 runs trades introduction programs starting with short programs in Grades 6 and 7 allowing students to build projects like planters or birdhouses.

For some students, it’s the first time they’ve held a tool. The next opportunity for formal trades training starts again in Grade 10 in either the Introduction to Trades Skills Program (run through the Learning Alternatives School) or the Trades Sampler Program, in partnership with Vancouver Island University (VIU).

There has been success in getting elementary girls excited about hands-on learning, but it wasn’t translating into an increase in girls going into our senior trades programs sampling non-traditional trades: carpentry, welding, electrical, automotive, and heavy mechanical trade. Most were still choosing the professional cook or hairdressing trades.

Working closely with VIU and the Industrial Training Authority (ITA) NLPS agreed to partner on a pilot for September 2019 and created a trades sampler for girls program.

Watch the the trades sampler for girls program in action.

In the short time available to recruit it wasn’t hard to find girls that were interested in working with other girls to explore non-traditional trades. Out of the 13 girls that started the program, nine are planning on attending a trades foundation program next year and one is starting in carpentry this February (2020).

It has been a tremendous success and we look forward to expanding opportunities going forward.

Derek Beeston, District Principal, The Career Technical Center, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools (68).