A major donation to Camosun College’s Empowering Women in the Trades bursary aims to open the doors to more women pursuing a career in a range of Red Seal trades.
The Gwyn Morgan and Patricia Trottier Foundation gifted $1.285 million to support the bursary over the next five years.
The Empowering Women in the Trades is a bursary aiming to break the barriers holding women back from considering a trades education.
Heather Solomonson, coordinator of the Women in Trades Training program, said between finances and family, it can be hard for women to start or return to school.
“It’s a big ask to be out of industry, have to take six to 10 weeks off depending on your trade, to come back to school,” Solomonson said. “A lot of women end up with child care expenses, you’re still paying rent, you’re still buying groceries while you are taking this time off for training.”
Students can apply for the bursary for financial help. Solomonson said amounts are given out on a case-by-case basis to go towards tuition, supplies, rent or anything else that could be holding them back from training.
“If we can make that transition a little bit easier for them they are more likely to come back to school, they’re more likely to progress in their trade and ultimately get to the point where they are getting their Red Seal,” she added.
A Red Seal certification allows tradespeople to work across Canada, earn more money and opens opportunities growth.
Solomonson said the more women Camosun can help get their Red Seal, the more women will be in leadership positions like job site foreman, supervisor and even searcher.
“The more we see women in leadership positions, the easier it is for younger students or women entering the job force to see it as an opportunity or possibility for them,” Solomonson explained.
Welding journeyman, Bobbie Ridout, told CHEK News she is just weeks away from receiving her Red Seal because of the Empowering Women in the Trades bursary.
“Women in trades has sponsored me throughout my apprentiship,” she said. “It’s the reason why I’m here. It’s the reason why I’m about to become a journeyman.”
Ridout has been in the welding course at Camosun for about one-and-a-half years and working in the industry for three years.
She wanted to get into trades to support her family, saying she couldn’t have done it without the support of the bursary.
Ridout added she’s noticed more women entering the trades programs as well.
“Now with the women in trades program, I hope there is going to be a lot more,” she said.
Solomonson said since the program started, there has been an increase in female enrolment.
“We have more women in the pipe trades right now at one time than we have ever had before,” Solomonson exclaimed. “It’s really fantastic.”
According to Solomonson, at this point the female representation in trades in B.C. sits at five per cent.
She said that is slowly growing as more barriers are removed, and hopes this bursary helps do that a little faster.
This is the second time the Gwyn Morgan and Patricia Trottier Foundation has donated to the school. In 2017, the foundation made a $1 million to pledge to create the bursary.