New Fanshawe program offering trade opportunities for women


Fanshawe’s St. Thomas/Elgin Regional campus has been selected as one of 14 institutions across Canada to begin offering a fully-funded welding program targeted towards women and women-identifying individuals. Program Coordinator Holly said the program will help educate the participants about welding and other related skills. It will also have a four-week industry work placement to help find a job incorporated into the 18-week program.

“We are only allowed 20 participants but we have an online screening process to make sure the women are accepted and help lead them to their success,” Parks said.

All in-person classes will begin May 29 and the participants are provided appropriate personal protective equipment. Even though the program provides 350 hours of in-class and lab training from May to September, this will be a blended delivery. Around 70 hours of training will be online that will relate to work that the participants are working on for the in-person portion of the program.

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“Not a lot of other colleges offer a virtual component in class and our connections with existing employers is why our Fanshawe program was looked at to get this opportunity,” Parks said.

The formal media campaign is just getting underway but Holly said that almost 150 registrants came in on May 16 to join the Women of Steel program.

“It’s such a big achievement because we haven’t announced too much yet to the public,” Parks said.

The participants have the ability to obtain six Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) qualifications in various positions. To receive the CWB welding tickets, participants must complete all courses and receive their certificate including the mandatory four-week placement too. This program helps mentor participants to further their career in welding or other professions that they are looking to head into after their studies.

Holly said that there are still some stigmas around women being in trades. According to the Government of Canada, industrial electricians, millwrights, welders, painters and decorators are the top trades in demand expected from 2022 to 2026.

“I think we need to push these trades as much as we do for university degrees and offer these free opportunities,” Holly said.

This Women of Steel program will offer the opportunity to consider trying a trade to see if this is the right fit, helping open doors for women in trades. Holly added that growing up, she saw that going into trades wasn’t looked at the same way as going to university but believes both hold the same value as a career path.

“Even if women don’t find a job in a trade from this program, it’s life skills that will benefit themselves even if it's small trade work at home,” Parks said.