June 20th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 25
CCHS girls participate in Girls Exploring Trades and Technologies conference
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald contributor photo
Several of the CCHS students are shown taking part in pipefitting activities at the plumbing station.
Pass Herald Reporter
Don't knock it till you've tried it, the saying goes. But unfortunately, most of us don't get to test-try several different career paths before settling on the one we truly have a passion for.

That wasn't the case for 15 girls at Crowsnest Consolidated High School (CCHS) who attended the Girls Exploring Trades and Technologies Conference in Edmonton from May 31 to June 2.

The event, part of the annual Skills Canada National Competition, aims to highlight career options that are available in the trades and technologies.

Career stations were set up all around the Edmonton Expo Centre where students had a chance to meet with mentors, speak with women working in the field, learn about the types of opportunities they would have and try dozens of "Try-A-Trade" activities. There was tire alignment at mechanics, pipefitting at the plumbing station, paving a path at masonry or design-your-own-cupcake or cookie tower at culinary arts, to name a few of the skilled work that students had a chance to try out.
"I think being able to meet new people that are actually involved and passionate about what they do and to try it and the hands-on experiences were very valuable to them," says career practitioner Alanna Whitaker, who accompanied the students on their trip.

Each trade also had a Regional Skills Canada Competition, where qualifying teams competed in challenges related to their trade. The masons, for example, built a fireplace, the carpenters built a playhouse, the welders were welding 3D sculptures. The winning teams then move on from regional to a provincial and potentially a national skills competition.
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Although CCHS did not have a team participating, two students from Matthew Halton High School in Pincher Creek competed, Cassandra Dollman in carpentry and Teran Thompson in cooking.

Whitaker says she hopes to enter CCHS students into the skills competition in future years.

Following the tour in the main hall, the girls participated in a round-table discussion with over 20 mentors of whom they could ask questions. For some of the girls, this was their favourite part of the day.
"I liked all the girls and how we were hyped up about how females can be in male-based jobs. I enjoyed the mentor tables and being able to ask one-on-one questions. the photography booth opened up my mind a lot and she answered my questions about university," says grade 11 student Tapanga Cargill.

For Meghan Tarcon, also in grade 11, she enjoyed learning about the career paths open to women.

"I really enjoyed the GETT conference. It really opened my eyes to trades that women are in and truly love and learn about careers that I had no idea existed," she says. "I really liked the welding part because it was very fun and exciting, but I truly loved the whole experience."
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Even for Whitaker, who had never been to Edmonton or seen the University of Alberta campus, it was an eye-opening experience.

"As a career practitioner, it's hard for me to speak to places I haven't even been to myself. Now I feel that I can endorse the UofA a lot more," she says. "Part of my job is to pay a lot of attention to the labour market because there's no point in directing someone into schooling when there's going to be no job in the end."

The event was such a successful and enlightening experience for CCHS, that Whitaker says she hopes students can attend the conference each year.

"Thank you to everyone that supported us to go and we are looking forward to making this a yearly event," she says. "What I said to the girls this year is if they become interested in something, then to come back again because it's not only about trying it and meeting new people, but you start networking and building."
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June 20th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 25
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