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Youth discovering the trades at industry-supported summer camps in Quesnel

The camps are being provided at the College of New Caledonia over the next two weeks

As sawmills see the ups and downs of B.C.’s forest industry, the skilled trades offer an opportunity for advanced jobs and careers to practice nearly anywhere, says welder and millwright Lana Love.

On Monday, Aug. 8, Love shared that with 16 female youth between the ages of 9-13 who are participating in a week-long discover trades camp by the BC Tradeswomen Society at the College of New Caledonia in Quesnel.

Love started in production, and two sawmills she was with, Vavenby and Isle Pierre, have closed.

“I did my welding 15 years ago, but it was really hard to get back into it when I got pregnant. People wouldn’t hire me, so when I had an opportunity working in production to become a skilled tradesperson it was just kind of a no-brainer for me,” she said.

“Unskilled labour is a dime a dozen, and I knew they were always looking for tradespeople. So I took the opportunity to be trained, and it was a great opportunity with Canfor because some folks have to take a layoff and go on EI and pay for their own schooling, but I was fortunate enough that Canfor, because of our collective agreement with the union, I got a raise to become an apprentice. My schooling was paid for, I got a leave of absence, and that was basically it.”

Over the coming days, the female youth will get to hear and learn from people in the skilled trades such as Love. They will also get to build fun projects such as copper bracelets, electrical cords and concrete planters before a celebration day on Friday, Aug. 12, in which there will be cake, certificates and awards.

A week-long discover trades camp will follow for Indigenous youth.

Read More: HOMETOWN HEROES: Breaking barriers, opening doors for women in the trades

The idea for the camps came from Lisa Scott, a local electrician and advocate for women in the trades.

“I took an idea, and I called some other tradeswomen, and it was a big collaboration of a lot of different organizations and people to bring this together,” Scott said.

“I couldn’t be more happy and excited for what we’re able to offer all these young people for these next two weeks and the amazing tradespeople and facilitators that have travelled so far to come here to help educate them and showcase their skills and their craft.”

A grant for the discover trades camps was provided by the Industry Training Authority, with the College of New Caledonia providing their facilities.

It is also supported by the BC Centre For Women In The Trades (BCCWITT), the Construction Foundation of British Columbia (CFBC), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the Prince George and Area Women In Trades and Industry.

Personal protective equipment was donated for each camp participant by Canfor and Terus Construction, which also contributed hats and lunch kits.

According to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, B.C.’s Labour Market Outlook is forecasting more than one million job openings into the next decade. While the largest number of job openings are expected in the health-care, social assistance and education industries, jobs will also be in high demand in skilled trades with 85,000 job openings expected.

Read More: Labour shortage hampers B.C. construction industry amid high demand for work

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