Director of Competitions & Young Women’s Initiatives, Skills Canada Ontario
Mediaplanet: Describe your current position/role and what inspired you to a path into the trades industry?
Jennifer Green: I am the Director of Competitions and Young Women’s Initiatives at Skills Ontario and a licensed Red Seal Industrial Mechanic Millwright. I was an academic, a jock, and a techie in high school, and was headed down the university path for forensic criminology. I had taken manufacturing, but it was more of a fun course for me rather than a possible career choice. I took an opportunity for Co-operative Education and quickly realized how much I truly enjoyed it. I made a full path change and entered into the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), being the first woman signed in my school board. It led me to not only advocate for skilled trades, but also to advocate for women in these careers. This path has given me a variety of amazing networking opportunities, as well as the ability to help make change in the skilled trades.
What I love most about this industry is the transferable skills my trade has provided me, not only in my career, but also at home — I am my own contractor for the most part. Competing in the Skills Ontario/Canada Competitions changed my life. By coming full circle with the organization as a participant, volunteer, and now employee, I can help offer the same types of opportunities to our province’s youth that I was once offered. It is incredibly rewarding knowing I am helping provide opportunities that can enrich the career paths of tomorrow’s leaders.
What advice would you give to young women interested in pursuing trades?
Women are equally suited to working in trades as men. Rigid gender-roles were in the way before, but that’s not the barrier anymore! Now, we need to learn about all the options in the trades and hear success stories from female tradespeople — to raise awareness for all. There are 144 trades to choose from in Ontario! Trade job openings are growing in Canada at a time where overall employment opportunities are scarce, so getting women thinking about themselves in the trades is important for the economy and for women. Learn as much as you can from those around you and soak up information from all different types of places about all sorts of careers. Having knowledge under your belt will help to make the best decision for your career and future.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add or promote?
Along with our Young Women’s Initiatives and the Skills Ontario Competition, Skills Ontario offers a wide range of programs for youth of all ages across the province throughout the year. From Cardboard Boat Races to Summer Camps to Trades & Tech Days, Skills Ontario recognizes the importance of connecting education, experience, and employment for young Ontarians. With 30 years of experience, Skills Ontario is proud to help continue to build the province’s skilled trade workforce. Please visit skillsontario.com for more information on our programs, initiatives, and events.