Sheridan College has created inclusive entry pathways to its skilled trades programming for women and other under-represented groups.
The pathway to entering a skilled trade isn’t always clear and direct — especially for those who are from groups typically under-represented in the trades including women, racialized people, Indigenous Peoples and people with disabilities. Building awareness about viable careers in the skilled trades — an industry ripe with opportunities to thrive — through targeted engagement and programming is crucial to engage people who may not have considered this pathway before.
Sheridan College is working to change that narrative. Its inclusive skilled trades programming is successfully increasing diversity and representation in the trades.
Melissa Cox, a student who has studied in both Social Service Worker and Electrical Techniques programs at Sheridan, completed years of post-secondary education before realizing that the trades was what she truly wanted to pursue.
Electrical Techniques Student, Sheridan College
“I discovered electrical through my cousin,” says Cox. “I was telling him about my social service studies, and he said I should go into electrical — he thought I’d love it as it’s a rewarding and well-paying job, and I’d be great at it.”
Cox initially brushed him off, but years later, feeling unfilled in her studies, she decided to give it a try. “I took Electrical Techniques and fell in love,” she says. “I sat there in my classes thinking, ‘Why did I wait so long to do this?’”
Cox learned that there’s much more to electrical than just wiring houses, and says her favourite course covered renewable energy. “Sheridan opened my eyes to how vast electrical really is,” she says. “This program is a great foundational course for people like me who may be brand new to the trades.”
Creating inclusive pathways
Sheridan College is committed to creating pathways for women and more diverse populations to enter the skilled trades, helping more people like Cox find rewarding and fulfilling careers. Its efforts range from hosting highly regarded international competitions to providing inclusive programming.
For example, Sheridan College’s Magna Skilled Trades Centre in Brampton was selected as host of the Industrial Mechanics event in the WorldSkills Competition 2022 Special Edition. In October, Sheridan welcomed country and region representatives to campus to compete for the title of world champion in their skill area.
Sheridan’s accessible programming is also creating more inclusive entry pathways. Its Accelerate Your Future: Introduction to the Manufacturing Trades initiative, a free 14-week program, makes pre-apprenticeship training more accessible for marginalized groups. It provides 200-plus hours of introductory, hands-on training across six different skilled trades disciplines — electrical, plumbing, welding, precision machining, industrial mechanic millwrighting, and construction — while also teaching fundamental mathematical concepts and communication and safety theory.
Equipping students for the future
These pre-apprenticeship training programs help students secure trades apprenticeships. Sheridan Community Employment Services can also help students find an employer who’s willing to hire and train them in their preferred trade.
Sheridan also offers full- and part-time apprenticeship training programs for construction and maintenance electricians, general machinists, industrial electricians, industrial mechanic millwrights, plumbers, and tool and die makers. Students can put classroom-based theory into practice on machinery and equipment similar to what they’ll use in the workplace.
Sheridan’s programming equips students for fulfilling careers as skilled, well-paid tradespersons or journeypersons.
“Our Magna School for Skilled Trades programs bring together students from diverse backgrounds with industry-connected faculty in a facility with state-of-the-art equipment,” says Greg Royal, Associate Dean, Magna School for the Skilled Trades, Faculty of Applied Science and Technology at Sheridan. “We work hard to foster an environment focused on inclusivity, growth, and development so our graduates are well-positioned for success as they enter in-demand fields.”