Jill Cicchello says quitting her desk job in her late 30s to become a plumber was one of the best decisions of her life.

The Guelph resident worked as an administrator in an office for years before becoming a plumber.

“I find that what I love about it is it has really grown my confidence and self-empowerment. It’s hard work and it is hard on the body, but the rewards are worth everything that we go through,” Cicchello said.

Cicchello now works with apprentice Megan Lynd for Enercare Home Services, installing new tubs for Kitchener clients. Cicchello is hoping to inspire more women to pursue careers in the trades industry.

Trades education for women: Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are one of the best ways to prepare for a career in skilled trades. For women who are less likely to have been introduced to tools in their youth, or who may not have been encouraged to pursue math and technical education, apprenticeship programs can be particularly beneficial.

The requirements and length of apprenticeships can vary, but one benefit is that apprenticeships can give people the opportunity to learn on the job while earning a living. Through an apprenticeship, you can gain hands-on experience as well as practical training. You also get paid and, in many cases, health insurance is provided.

Apprenticeships also allow apprentices to earn higher wages, learn from mentors, and make professional connections throughout their career.

According to Skills Ontario, women are underrepresented in construction. In the trades industry, fewer than five percent of Canadians are women.

“The goal here at Skills Ontario is to be able to promote the skilled trades as viable career options to youth and we try to do that with our Young Women’s Initiative program,” said Lindsay Chester, who is the Program Manager with Skills Ontario.

Chester says more workers are needed in the trades industry. By having more women enter skilled trades and industries hiring more tradeswomen, it opens up the door for other women to pursue careers in those fields.

There is no doubt that women should pursue skilled trades, but we need to encourage them to do so. More women are breaking into the construction industry now than ever before and the Government of Ontario actively supports this growth.

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