Shoptalk: What More Can Be Done Within P.E.I.'s Public School System to Promote Females in Non-Traditional Skilled Trades?

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MacDonald, Allyson
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The skilled trades have historically been dominated by men. Jobs in areas such as carpentry, welding, electrical work and plumbing have seen far more male participation than female. This is despite the fact that females have many strengths to lend to the industry. Beyond this, female participation can have positive effects on the economic welfare of families, communities, and provinces in Canada. There will be an increase in need for skilled trades workers in Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) and the rest of Canada in coming years. Supporting the argument of encouragement for female youth to pursue skilled trades work, research has demonstrated that there is a high level of satisfaction that females (and males) can derive from working with their hands and producing tangible products. This study centred around the present state of public education in P.E.I. with regards to recruiting and retaining female talent in skilled trades training. This research project utilized surveys to measure the opinions of secondary Career and Technical Education (C.T.E.) teachers and school counsellors to identify initiatives these educators believe might be useful to improve recruitment rates. The resulting responses reflected the strong value participants place on access to female role models for students within the province, through various avenues such as media, course instructors who are female, and female guest speakers. Additionally, there was a theme of support for tapping in to the potential for peer influence, through facilitated peer shadowing and groups. Many participants in this study expressed a desire for specific professional development to better equip them to meet the needs of female students, and to deepen their understanding of skilled trades (counsellors). Furthermore, there was strong support evident in responses for all-female classes, especially at the introductory level. This research discovered that a stigma remains firmly attached to trades work within the province, and this is evident within the educational system. These recommendations are important considerations in the endeavor to improve female involvement in the trades within the public educational system in P.E.I..
women in skilled trades, recruitment, P.E.I., female role models, career and technical education, professional development