VIU Cowichan funds women in trades program for fall 2020

There are spots and funds available to women interested in exploring a career in trades.

Vancouver Island University will go ahead with its Women In Trades Training (WITT) sampler course this fall at its Cowichan campus, confirmed program coordinator Gaileen Flaman in an interview with The Discourse. The 12-week program offers self-identified women the opportunity to explore and gain experience in a variety of trades.  About half the spots are still open for this fall, anticipated to begin in September, Flaman says. The program is fully funded for eligible students. 

Flaman says she wants to “see more women being encouraged to find their place and their passion and to not feel intimidated or that the trades aren’t an option for them.” WITT also offers financial support to eligible women in pre-apprentice trades programs

The parallel Indigenous People in Trades Training (IPTT) sampler program is in planning stages for this fall. Anyone interested in IPTT support is encouraged to reach out, Flaman says. 

Gaileen Flaman VIU Cowichan Women in trades
Gaileen Flaman, who identifies as a Metis woman, coordinates women in trades training at VIU. She says the role is “a more intentional piece around reconciliation and the advancement of women.” Photo submitted by Gaileen Flaman

Who is eligible? 

Funding is through the Industry Training Authority (ITA), and the program is in partnership with Camosun College. These programs don’t just offer assistance in terms of financial support. Vancouver Island University also offers support through helping participants navigate “post-secondary institutions and to help them discover and access the different support centres within the university,” says Flaman. 

Eligible participants can join the programs at no cost, with additional support being offered. To join the WITT program, you must identify as a woman, be over the age of 18, and be unemployed, underemployed or precariously employed. 

What does the sampler program involve? 

The WITT sampler program focuses on building essential skills for those entering the trades, including relevant certifications. Flaman says that, while subject to change, this fall’s WITT sampler will expose students to the trades of carpentry, welding, electrical, refrigeration and air conditioning, mechanics, and plumbing, where women are underrepresented.. The Indigenous sampler program often also includes training in horticulture, culinary, and hairdressing, Flaman says.

What effect will COVID-19 have? 

For the upcoming fall semester, learning will consist of a combination of online and in-person classes, Flaman says. The WITT sampler’s in-person training will occur at Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan campus in Duncan. 

Flaman says that staff are working hard to adapt the program and meet student needs. ”There’s a lot of effort being put into making sure that the online is still high quality, that it is engaging, that it does give the students opportunities for collaboration and experiential learning.”

Where can I get more information?

Editor’s note, Aug. 26 2020: A previous version of this article said the IPTT sampler would go ahead this fall. In fact, it is still in planning stages. 

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