For a second time, Niagara College and its partners will play virtual host to female high school students across Niagara who will explore careers in trades and technology. Exploring Your Future – Dream It, Believe It, Do It is a partnership between NC, the District School Board of Niagara (DSBN), Niagara Catholic District School Board (Niagara Catholic), Skills Ontario and event sponsor Ontario Power Generation (OPG), to make female students aware of the many lucrative career pathways that exist in industries they may not have traditionally considered.
“We are pleased to continue our partnership with our local school boards, Ontario Power Generation and now Skills Ontario, to provide an opportunity for young women in Niagara to learn about careers in the skilled trades and technology,” said Vincent Van Schaik, NC’s Dean of Media, Trades and Technology. “We hope that the Exploring Your Future series helps encourage these students to pursue their higher education in one of these areas.”
The free online mentorship series kicks off on Thursday, January 20 at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom, where students will have the opportunity to hear from female mentors in the industry whose stories and experiences will aim to inspire the young women. Guests include keynote speaker Jennifer Green, Skills Ontario’s Director of Competitions and Young Women’s Initiatives, Jennifer Grossi, Corporate Relations Officer, Ontario Power Generation and Thalia Semplonius, Project Manager, Niagara Workforce Planning Board.
“Skills Ontario is a very proud partner in this collaborative event,” said Green. “We are dedicated to empowering youth to explore skilled trades and technologies, and we are thrilled to team up with like-minded organizations to inspire young women to explore these pathways. As a Licensed Industrial Mechanic Millwright and a long-time advocate for women in skilled trades, I hope my experience will not only inspire young women but also shed some light on the industry and help dispel the outdated myth that these careers aren’t for women. The truth is we need more women in the skilled trades and technologies, and events like these help open the door.”
“Ontario Power Generation is proud to sponsor this collaborative event, which is about giving young women an opportunity to explore careers related to math, science and technology,” said Grossi. “There are endless opportunities for women in skilled trades and technologies, and this is a great opportunity to highlight them to students.”
The Jan. 20 kick-off will be followed by a series of sector-specific events being held February through April via Zoom. The events will also feature women with careers in a range of industries within the skilled trades who will share their professional experiences with students.
- February 10 (3:30 p.m.): Construction with industry guest speaker
- March 24 (3:30 p.m.): Industrial and Power Technologies with Kate Parr, Industrial Mechanic Millwright, Apprentice, Skills Ontario
- April 7 (3:30 p.m.): Motive Power and Horticulture with Kyara Cabrera Fong, Autobody Technician, Apprentice with the Toronto Transit Commission, Skills Ontario
- April 28 (3:30 p.m.): Service Sector with Niagara College representatives
Female students interested in registering or learning more about these events are encouraged to reach out to their school guidance counsellor. In advance of each event, students will receive an event package filled with career resources, as well as a program guide and swag from NC.
“Students will also get materials sent to them so they can participate in hands-on activities during the subsequent virtual events, from wherever they’re tuning in from,” said Jill Russell, DSBN Consultant for Technological Education and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. “Our students really value the chance to hear from strong, enthusiastic, and accomplished female mentors, so it’s important that we’ve been creative and moved this opportunity online.”
“This is an incredible opportunity for the young women in Niagara, to learn from trailblazers who are leading the way in the skilled trades and technology,” said Ivana Galante, Niagara Catholic’s Business-Technology/Specialist High Skills Major/Co-op/Ontario Youth Apprenticeship consultant. I encourage all of our participants to keep an open mind and be willing to learn about the amazing opportunities available to them.”
The Exploring Your Future series is the latest effort from NC and its valued partners to inspire young women to seek career opportunities in trades and technology. Both school boards have held previous in-person events encouraging female high school students to explore traditionally male-dominated fields.
Comments from past student participants
“I have always been interested in technology and have taken all of the construction courses at my school. Hearing from all the speakers last year was really great. It helped me decide to become a carpenter. Right now, I am doing a co-op as a framer and want to start an apprenticeship when I graduate.” – Grade 12 DSBN student
“I was never introduced to all of these jobs before. It was interesting seeing all the possibilities. During networking when the experts came, one of them talked about how women aren’t well accepted in man-dominated jobs. She talked about having thick skin and to keep trying even if you are shot down. This made me realize that I have the power to pursue whatever career I feel passionate about.” – Grade 11 student at Niagara Catholic DSB
“I learned that life won’t be how you expect it to turn out. There are a lot of really good careers you can have that tie to your interests. I am now going to explore different tech courses to learn more and see where it takes me.” – Grade 9 student at Niagara Catholic DSB
Niagara College offers more than 150 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, distilling, horticulture and esthetics. For more information, visit niagaracollege.ca.
The District School Board of Niagara (DSBN) is the largest public school board in Niagara, serving 40,000 students across the region in nearly 100 elementary and secondary schools. We are committed to ensuring every student has the individual support and resources they need to reach their full potential. Get to know us at dsbn.org.
Niagara Catholic provides excellence in Catholic education to 21,000 students throughout Niagara. We nurture the souls and build the minds of our students, from Kindergarten through graduation. For more information, visit niagaracatholic.ca.
OPG is a climate change leader and the largest clean electricity generator in the province, providing more than half of the power Ontarians rely on every day. It is also one of the most diverse generators in North America, with expertise in nuclear, hydroelectric, biomass, solar and natural gas technologies.
Skills Ontario is a not-for-profit organization that has been delivering programs and events since 1989 with an aim to inspire youth to explore skilled trades and technologies. Skills Ontario has found great success through its initiatives, and continues to deliver programs for many audiences, including young women, Indigenous youth, new Canadians, persons with exceptionalities, and more, in order to connect education, experience, and employment. To learn more, visit www.skillsontario.com.
Photo: Jennifer_Green_Skills_Ontario: Jennifer Green, Director of Competitions and Young Women’s Initiatives with Skills Ontario and a Licensed Industrial Mechanic Millwright, will share her experiences with female high school students during the Exploring Your Future mentorship series kick-off event on January 20.