Women in Trades: Explore Your Options with a Unique Trades 'Sampler' Program

By College of the Rockies Modified on March 11, 2024
Tags : Skilled Trades | Tech

College of the Rockies lets women explore six different trades over twelve weeks, entirely tuition-free.

Women in Trades: Explore Your Options with a Unique Trades

In Canada, women are underrepresented in the skilled trades. This is a problem, not only for diversity and inclusion reasons, but because Canada doesn't have enough skilled tradespeople overall! Tens of thousands of skilled tradespeople are set to retire over the next few years, meaning Canada has a strong need for a new generation of tradespeople.

College of the Rockies (CotR), a small college in Cranbrook, British Columbia, understands the challenges faced by students considering the trades. Many students don't have much experience with the trades, and have a hard time deciding which field would be right for them. This is doubly true of women and girls, who are often excluded from traditionally "masculine" trades like carpentry and welding.

To address the needs of young women who are considering a life in the skilled trades, CotR has launched the Women in Trades Sampler Program: a 12-week, full-time program that covers six different skilled trades, giving you an introduction to the tools and traits you'll need to know if you choose an education (and career) in the trades.

The best part of the Women in Trades Sampler Program? It's tuition-free!

What trades can I explore in the sampler program?

Over the course of the 12-week program, you'll cover six distinct trades, focusing on each in turn over a two-week period. Here are the trades you'll explore as part of the sampler program:

Industrial mechanic (millwright)

When we say "mechanic," we don't mean cars and trucks (that comes later)! Instead, we're talking about the machines used to manufacture products and run factories. Millwrights assemble, repair, and disassemble critical machinery for construction purposes.

Learn more about working as a millwright (industrial mechanic).


Learn how to light up the world as an electrician. Electricians wire new systems and repair old ones. Getting new people into this trade is super important — imagine where you'd be without electricity!

Learn more about working as an electrician.


Carpenters build everything from birdhouses to human houses. You'll learn to work with wood, joining small pieces that come together to be greater than the sum of their parts.

Learn more about working as a carpenter.

Piping trades

Pipefitter, gasfitter, steamfitter — these are just a few variants on the basic theme of getting stuff through pipes! Clean water, fresh air, natural gas, and everything in between: it all flows through pipes.

Learn more about working as a plumber or a steam and pipe fitter.


Welders cut and join metal using more metal. Welders make new welds and repair existing infrastructure. Welding is usually done at the construction level, producing the steel skeletons that hold up modern buildings.

Learn more about working as a welder.

Automotive trades

Car go vroom — thanks to automotive mechanics. You'll learn how cars work, from the basic design principles to the practical realities of the auto shop. But be careful: you might get friends asking for help diagnosing that weird sound their car makes!

Learn more about working as an automotive tech.

Here's a quick look at the program:

What else will I learn as part of the sampler program?

Not only will you dip your toes into these half-dozen trades, experiencing life in a shop setting, but you'll also develop core competencies that will benefit you no matter your eventual career path.

You'll be introduced to standard occupational health and safety procedures, including level 1 first aid, alongside fall training and even some forklift experience. Where possible, you'll visit real worksites to see the pros in action, and hear from experienced guest speakers to learn about the reality of a life in the trades.

You'll also learn about the apprentice system of British Columbia, which is important if you're thinking about practicing in the province. (You can eventually pursue your Red Seal certification in your chosen trade so you can work anywhere in Canada.)

Want to know more about the trades at College of the Rockies? Browse the Women in Trades digital booklet on the CotR website.

What do I need to do to take part in the trades sampler program?

Taking part is easy! The program runs from April 2 through June 21, 2024, full-time.

The program is tuition-free, meaning you don't pay a thing to participate. There are a couple things you'll need, though:

  • Steel-toed work boots
  • Safety glasses
  • Work-appropriate attire (when in doubt, coveralls!)

College of the Rockies will provide protective equipment for the welding portion and a tool belt for the electrician portion. If you have access to steel-toed boots and safety goggles, and you're prepared to follow the safety requirements at all times, you're good to go!

And of course, you need to know how to apply! Please reach out to Joy Brown, jbrown@cotr.bc.ca with any questions. You can apply for this program by sending an email to Joy Brown — CotR staff will help you out from there.

Will my performance in the program be assessed?

Yes, your performance in the trades sampler will be assessed! The main factor is your participation and positive attitude while taking part over the course of 12 weeks. Attendance and time management are important!

You'll also need to complete a number of safety quizzes, passing with at least 70% on each quiz. Finally, you'll also have journal, portfolio, and interview assignments, and trade-specifc projects to give you practical experience. You'll be busy!

Getting practical experience in an array of skilled trades, from expert teachers, isn't easy! College of the Rockies makes the process a lot more accessible for women and girls who are underrepresented in the trades.

If you're interested in the trades, but you're not sure where to start, consider this unique program. You'll try out some of the trades that are most in-demand across the country, so you'll have plenty of career options if a particular trade grabs your attention.

Good luck in your exploration of the trades!

Learn more about the Women in Trades Sampler at College of the Rockies

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