Photo of Andrea Davidson

Conestoga College is focusing its recruitment efforts on young women between Grade 9 and 12 on Wednesday.

Nearly 250 high school students are expected to show up for the campus’ annual Jill of All Trades day, which aims to introduce young women to careers in the skilled trades.

“What we’re trying to do is change the perception of the skilled trades. Women are an under-represented group in this area,” said Brenda Gilmore, chair of Technology Trades and Apprenticeship at Conestoga College. “We are trying to attract and retain women in trades and build on that.”

Girls will participate in three of 12 different workshops with hands-on activities throughout the day. The activities will include plumbing, electrical, masonry, welding, carpentry and more.

“They get a chance to participate in the full gamut of the trades that we offer at the college,”said Julia Biedermann, executive dean of the Schools of Engineering and Information Technology, Trades and Apprenticeship at Conestoga College.

About 100 volunteer mentors, many of whom are women, will also be there for the day.

“I think it’s important to get to our young women earlier just so they know that they have career options,” said mentor Andrea Davidson. Davidson graduated from Conestoga’s Electrical Technician-Industrial program and is an apprentice commercial electrician at Stecho Electric inWaterloo.

Biedermann said Jill of All Trades, which has run for five years and is funded by the province, is about building confidence.

“The purpose of the event is to encourage young women to consider a future in skilled trades.We hope that these students will go back to high school and choose a tech course; that they won’t be afraid to try it because now they’ve had this chance,” Biedermann said.