Women in welding: breaking down barriers

In 2019, the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities funded a pre-apprenticeship welding program for women. Offered at Cambrian College in Sudbury, the Women in Welding program is one example of the Ontario government’s recent initiatives to have under-represented groups, such as women and Indigenous students, join the trades.

Through the program, women received the first theory portion of a welding apprenticeship, Infrastructure Health and Safety Association (IHSA) training, an eight-week co-op with an employer, and career development workshops.

“This program is helping to break down barriers women face in pursuing careers in welding, and it’s showing women welders are every bit as skilled as their male counterparts,” says Kimberly Glibbery, Manager of Apprenticeships & Partnerships at Cambrian College.

IHSA provided training
Wanting to ensure course participants were work ready upon completion of the program and had the required training certificates, Cambrian also incorporated IHSA training into the program. Among these courses were Working at Heights, Confined Spaces and Hazard Awareness, Hoisting and Rigging, Ladder Handling, and Lift Truck Operator.

“IHSA continues to enjoy the opportunity to collaborate with Cambrian College in the Women in Welding and other progressive programs aimed at providing training that leads to great opportunities in the trades,” says Doug Heintz, Manager of Health and Safety Education at IHSA. “IHSA’s additional training compliments the Cambrian program and assists in providing the program participants with a well-rounded curriculum that addresses the required knowledge and skills of their chosen trade.”

Interest in the program was high
The program was open to women who were 16 years of age or older with an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or General Educational Development (GED) certificate. Initial interest in the program was high. Over 150 women attended the information session and 80 applied. There were only 16 spots available.

After receiving 10 weeks of in-school training, participants started an eight-week placement this January. Some of the companies who took in placements include Anmar Mechanical, Lopes Ltd., McDowell Equipment, Steel North, and C & A Steel.

With the program now almost complete, Glibbery is pleased with the strong and cohesive group of women that were selected. “It was very encouraging to see these women go through the process and thrive.”

Learn more about Cambrian College’s Skills and Trades Training.
Learn more about IHSA’s Training Services.