Supporting women to explore, succeed and lead in trades

From our annual corporate charity golf tournament to this year’s $7.5 million donation to fund the new Concert Properties Centre for Trades & Technology building at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), supporting trades training has long been a priority at Concert Properties.

In addition to helping meet the overall demand for trades people, we also believe it is important to expand the gender diversity of those who are exposed to the various trades that underpin the construction industry.

We were proud to recently sponsor Jill of All Trades, a day-long event hosted by  BCIT and led by female mentors to inspire young women, or those who identify as female, in grades 9 through 12 to pursue careers in the skilled trades. 

The day provided participants with the opportunity to experience practical, in-the-shop sessions, with more than 90 high school students getting a glimpse of what a career in the trades could look like. Disciplines included ironworking, sheet metal, industrial instrumentation and motorcycle technology, among many others.

“This event is a chance [for participants] to see it so they can be it,” says Tamara Pongracz, Department Head, Trades Access, BCIT. “It's paramount that we provide these opportunities for a sustainable workforce, and for these folks to be able to be part of how we build British Columbia."

It’s also a benefit to the industry as a whole to have a more diverse range of perspectives. 

The Trades Discovery Program at BCIT – supported by Concert Properties through bursaries – is another great example of a program designed to provide students with an opportunity to try out and build skills in a variety of trades. It is a highly practical program that helps students determine their strengths and long-term interests before committing to a career path.

“I got into this industry through the Trades Discovery Program – Women in Trades,” says Laura Quilty, a sheet metal graduate who moved into a leadership role within a construction company after graduating the program. “When I began working, it wasn’t unusual to be the only woman on site or the first woman hired. The first woman on the tools. The first woman estimating. But what surprised me was how often the crew would say I changed the dynamic in a positive, collaborative way. I even had one gentleman come up to me and say, ‘I’m so glad you’re here.’” 

Laura is now the Manager of Construction Projects at WorkSafeBC. “It’s not uncommon now to see the top people in an organization within this industry be women. This industry is a wonderful pipeline for women to get into leadership roles.”

The Jill of All Trades event is one of those pipelines, providing an entry point for more women to join the trades and make a positive impact on the industry.