Trades careers were introduced to a couple of demographic groups not strongly represented in those professions, but loaded with the potential. Lisa Scott sees it. She took the lead, during spring break, to make the light brighter for those kids.
One of the orientation camps she led was for Indigenous youth, the other for girls. The age range for each was 10-13.
As a Red Seal electrician who has worked in a number of industrial settings (she currently works for School District 28), she rallied the support of the Construction Foundation of BC (CFBC) to hold these introductory experiences for young people in Quesnel, free of charge.
“Last year, I went into the CFBC office and saw all the amazing work they were doing with youth, and I immediately wanted to bring that work back to Quesnel,” said Scott. “I was working as a maintenance electrician at the school district in Quesnel, so applying what I was doing in the trades to a shop class setting made sense.”
This spring break marked the second year in a row she has conducted the camps, spreading the hands-on trades experience to a widening circle of young people.
“It’s really great to see the pride the students show when building their projects,” added Scott. “It’s fun to watch them develop these skills and confidence and watch what they have completed. Sometimes, it’s hard to pull them away from the projects that they are working on as they are so engaged when it’s time to break for lunch.”
Scott has 21 years of professional experience to pass on, and she still remembers well the tipping point where something she was doing as a job in her youth suddenly became a career dream.
“During the last week of a mill shutdown I was working on, I met an older woman welder,” said Scott. “She also told me about the trades, opportunities, and money available in industry. That’s when I thought, ‘If this lady could do it, so could I.’ Being a single mom at a young age, I thought this could be a great career path that I wanted to pursue and create a better life for my son and I.”
These camps were supported financially, so the kids didn’t have to pay their way into this experience, by the Construction Foundation of BC, Skilled Trades BC, West Fraser Mills, BC Centre for Women in the Trades, BC Tradeswomen Society, College of New Caledonia, Dakelh Education and Employment Society, Service Electric and Nedco.
Other supporters from the private sector also took part.
“I call out some of my friends and different folks from industry who want to inspire youth,” said Scott. “It’s so heartfelt, the support that comes together for this.”
Industrial technology company Arbios Biotech posted on social media following the camps that they were proud of their employee, Lana Love, for being involved in the instruction.
“The main highlight for me was seeing these young women’s confidence grow over the week. Watching them use a tool for the first time and seeing them improve in their abilities over the course a few short hours was awesome,” Love said.
Scott said MLA Coralee Oakes was a helpful supporter early in the process, and West Fraser has been a staunch backer of the program providing gathering space, shop space, equipment demonstrations and site tour. The Cariboo Campus was also a main site.
Each camp day began with morning stretches and roundtable discussions in a classroom setting before heading to the workshop. Snack breaks and a midday lunch were included, before participants returned to the shop for the afternoon to work on a variety of projects.
Summertime is also when camps like these will run, and now Scott is getting calls from other communities to come do camps for them, or provide a template so their local industrial instructional leaders can do it.
“I think we can all do a better job of creating opportunities for the youth coming up, and for industries we all rely on in our communities,” she said. “These are well paying, super fulfilling and rewarding jobs and we have a shortage in those trades, so this is great for everyone,” Scott said.
To contribute to future camps like this, please email Scott at email@example.com.