BCIT: Encouraging women in trades

An inclusive workforce is key to meeting labour-market demand
Tuesday, May 11, 2021

BCIT is B.C.’s largest trades training institute with trades, technical and apprenticeship programs covering the construction, transportation, and energy sectors. Students learn from industry experts in trades with online classes and hands-on training.

The institute has the longest-running Women in Trades program in Canada. It is designed to provide skills training and a support network for women in the trades.

Q. Tell us about Women in Trades at BCIT.

Although there are abundant government sponsored initiatives to promote the participation of women in the area of trades work, BCIT has a long history of supporting women into trades careers. As an institute, BCIT chose to redress the disparity of women in trades through proactive change, specifically, a course designed to introduce, support and encourage women to explore the trades as an employment opportunity. Starting with offerings in the late 1970s, the Women’s Exploratory Apprenticeship Training (WEAT) program is a precursor to the women in trades programs we see all across Canada today.

In 1995, BCIT elected to designate Women in Trades exploration as part of its core business, therefore ensuring that opportunities for women are safeguarded and can flourish.

Trades Discovery for Women has been designed to allow participants extensive access to the available training options available.  While the numbers of women attending trades training at BCIT has progressively increased over the last few years, many are graduates of the Trades Discovery for Women program.

Q. What makes BCIT’s Women in Trades programs distinctive?

What sets BCIT apart is the considerable number of different trade disciplines available to explore. BCIT is the only post-secondary in North America covering all modes of travel – trains, planes automobiles and ships.  In the case of railway conductor, ironworker and boilermaker, we are the sole training provider for the province.  The world of opportunities for women in trades continues to grow and BCIT is here to support that growth.

Q. What supports are available for students?

While BCIT is the largest provider of trades training, we are also committed to supporting student success: academic, professional and personal.  BCIT is committed to providing a respectful and inclusive working and learning environment.  Our Respect, Diversity and Inclusion department creates awareness and belonging through education, events and training. Supportive and knowledgeable faculty, are backed by industry employers. BCIT works closely with industry to ensure our curriculum is in line with what employers are looking for.  Our facilities and equipment are state-of-the-art because BCIT benefits from constant infusion of industry funding and employers come to us for their recruits.  BCIT’s Centre for Workplace Education connects our grads with first-rate employers.

Q. Are there any programs available in the next few months?

In September 2021, BCIT will be offering a tuition free, full- time offering of Trades Exploration for Women, and will provide financial supports to assist participants in their pursuit of trades careers. Contact Trades_discovery@bcit.ca for more information.

In October 2021, BCIT will be offering the first of three offerings of the co-ed Electrical Foundation program with an enhanced curriculum for women. This unique offering will also incorporate curriculum around diversity and inclusion.  Contact BCIT_Electrical@bcit.ca for more information.


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