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Okanagan College offers program geared to women interested in careers in the skilled trades
Okanagan College Media Release

Women in the Shuswap region are being invited to take the first steps towards rewarding and fulfilling careers in the building trades at the Salmon Arm campus of Okanagan College this September. With sponsorship assistance made possible by the Canada-BC Labour Market Agreement these women will be able to attend the course for free.

Targeting unemployed and underemployed women, the upcoming 12-week Gateway to the Building Trades for Women program will open up job opportunities for women in the trades sector and help address the critical labour shortage in skilled trades in B.C.

In the Gateway to the Building Trades program, students gain practical hands-on experience that prepares them to make confident career and educational choices. Created to engage women in a variety of different building trades, students learn about carpentry, plumbing, electrical, painting, joinery, and other related skills. At the end of the program, graduates can move into employment, apprenticeship, or trades foundation programs in the area they enjoyed the most.

Robin Arnouse, who completed the program in 2012 said “I would recommend this program to any woman. I was hearing people say ‘go into the trades if you want to make good money.’ But I didn’t know much about them. In the program, I job shadowed in a welding class and decided that it was for me. I love welding.”

Arnouse is now working on her “C” ticket through Okanagan College, with plans to take her education further. “Everything about the Gateway to the Trades was a good experience. The College staff are very helpful, and the teachers and facilities were great. I have gone from cleaning rooms in a camp to being able to get a good-paying job in Salmon Arm, close to friends and family.”

“The Women in Trades program is terrific,” said Regional Dean Jim Barmby. “It brings new opportunities to women of all ages, it gives them a low-risk opportunity to try various trades, and they learn something about their potential skills and abilities in a safe, nurturing and supportive environment.”

Many of our Women in Trades students go on to master a trade while making good money during the apprenticeships, and then even better money after their certification. I cannot think of a better program anywhere that provides such a range of opportunities to a segment of our society that needs those opportunities the most.”

Previous intakes for the Gateway to the Building Trades for Women program have had a positive impact on the lives of many in the Thompson Okanagan region, said Barmby.

“The greatest career opportunities for women are often in non-traditional jobs, and new trends are emerging thanks to programs like Women in Trades,” he said.

Okanagan College is the second-largest trades training institution in B.C. with state-of-the-art facilities throughout the region. For more information on the Gateway to the Building Trades for Women program, contact the Salmon Arm Campus of Okanagan College, or visit  An information session will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10 at the Okanagan College Trades Building, 5450 – 48th Avenue.