Success Stories

A career in trades can mean independence, job satisfaction and great pay. It's your chance to find work that is valued, respected and rewarding. Today, there is a trade to suit everyone's abilities and interests, including yours. Tradespeople work with their hands and their minds in industries as diverse as aerospace, telecommunications, horticulture, homebuilding and many others. In fact, there are more than 100 trades in British Columbia where you can train as an apprentice.

If you are currently unemployed or employed but low-skilled, you may qualify for this new initiative. Find out more about more about initiative training programs in your area. If you do not qualify, we may also be able to connect you to other ITA programs and initiatives to help you build a career in the trades. Information about trades training is available by contacting the ITA at:

Lower Mainland 778-328-8700
Toll Free in B.C. 1-866-660-6011

Jordan Atlin

Meet Jordan Atlin, a young Aboriginal woman who now holds her Red Seal in Welding after participating in the Women in Trades Training program with instruction from UAPIC. “At UAPICBC, I discovered that I was meant to be a welder,” says Jordan. The encouragement, skills, and training she received have given her the confidence to “go anywhere and be successful.”

Danielle, Alyssa and Shelley

Danielle Boileau, of Vernon, chose the trades after managing a retail store in Whistler for one simple reason – she wanted to try something different. She’s now training to be a Heating, Ventilation Air-Conditioning Refrigeration (HVAC&R) Mechanic. She credits the Women in Trades Training program with opening doors to a new life. “Women in Trades Training provided me with a mentor, made it affordable to take on a trade. They provided me with books, tuition and lots of support,” says Danielle. “I look forward to every day at work and not many people can say that.

For Alyssa Malito, she loved being fit and appreciated the value of hands-on, hard work. But it wasn't until participating in the Gateway to the Trades for Women program at Okanagan College that Alyssa connected her passion to a career. Alyssa is now a Carpenter with Maltech Construction where co-workers treat her as “one of the guys.” “Women in Trades Training helped me experience different trades as well as help me with funding towards both tools and school,” says Alyssa. “I love doing something different every day, it’s a great workout and I’m always busy.

It took a car accident for Nanaimo’s Shelley MacIntyre to switch gears and become a Heavy Equipment Operator. An outdoors type who loves both motorcycling and biking, she chose to move on up to bigger machines. The support of both ITA’s Women in Trades Training (WITT) initiative and her employer, Island Aggregates, made her the competent operator she is today, says Shelley. “There is a stereotype. However, the help of great Women in Trades Training instructors and classes, along with a very female friendly workplace, made the learning a lot easier,” says Shelley. “I like being outside. I like driving the equipment and being part of the team and seeing what you accomplish every day.


Growing up with two older brothers, Nicole Martini never played with tools. This all changed when, at the age of 21 and working a part-time retail job, Nicole learned about the ITA Women in Trades Training (WITT) initiative.
As someone who loves working with her hands, Nicole, 24, always knew a career in retail wasn’t for her. She was looking for something to challenge her mentally and physically.

When Nicole learned about the Gateway to the Trades program offered at Okanagan College through the ITA Women in Trades Training (WITT) initiative, she immediately signed up. Through the program, Nicole received the career guidance she had been looking for, and funding for a transportation allowance, tuition, books, tools and work clothes. Nicole went on to receive her Level 1 technical training through the Plumber Pre-Apprenticeship program also offered at Okanagan College.

Nicole is now working for Leask & Co., and every day presents a new, exciting challenge. “It’s a great feeling to know what I’m capable of,” she says. “Now, I can fix my own sink; it doesn’t scare me like it used to.”

“Most of all, I appreciate the financial opportunity my apprenticeship has given me. After one year of working as a Plumber apprentice, I was able to buy a house — I never thought this was possible.”

Nicole plans to one day become Red Seal certified. For now, she mentors other young women in the Gateway to the Trades program. Her one piece of advice is this: “Don’t let people tell you what you can and can’t do. You can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it.”

To download Nicole's printable profile sheet, click here. (2.7MB pdf)


Don’t let her age or appearance fool you: 22-year-old Mila Puharich was practically born to work in the trades: her grandfather was a Welder, her father an Aircraft Engineer, her mother a Mechanic and her sister is a Painter. After learning about the ITA Women in Trades Training (WITT) initiative, Mila received the support she needed to follow in her family’s footsteps.

After nine months spent volunteering across Canada, Mila returned home convinced that a career in the trades was for her. She was determined to take advantage of the welding skills she picked up along the way, but needed help.

Mila found out about the Women in Trades Exploration course offered at Camosun College through the ITA Women in Trades Training (WITT) initiative.

Mila received financial assistance to pay for her tools, transportation and tuition for the Level C Welding program offered as part of the course.

“I am very grateful for the support I received for my training,” says Mila. “The program gave me all the skills I needed to pursue my career as a Metal Fabricator.”

With the help of the Skilled Trades Employment Program (STEP), managed by the British Columbia Construction Association (BCCA), Mila secured an apprenticeship as the only woman Metal Fabricator at Victoria Shipyards.

Success is on the horizon for Mila, who is working towards becoming Red Seal certified. “The best part of my trade is that I’m never bored and I love to see what I accomplish at the end of the day,” says Mila.

“Working in a trade is hard but rewarding — you never know what you’re capable of until you face the job hands-on.”

To download Mila's printable profile sheet, click here. (2.9MB pdf)


Before becoming a Plumber apprentice, Cathy ran a home daycare to support her kids. However, when she became her family’s sole breadwinner, she needed to find something else – and fast.

Cathy’s initial job search was troubling: most careers required years of expensive schooling, with little opportunity for income during that time. She was surprised to learn a career in the trades offered the perfect solution with on-the-job training and good wages.

Cathy learned about the Piping Opportunities for Women (POW) program offered by the Piping Industry Apprenticeship Board (PIAB) through the ITA Women in Trades Training initiative.

She was worried about paying tuition and providing childcare for her youngest kids. To Cathy’s relief, the program provided her with a childcare subsidy and transportation allowance, and paid for her tuition, tools and work boots. Most importantly, the supportive instructors at PIAB gave Cathy the confidence boost she needed.

After completing the six-week exploratory POW program, Cathy accelerated into her Level 1 technical training and finished top of her class.

Cathy, now a first-year apprentice and Black & McDonald employee, hopes to one day become a Red Seal certified Plumber. “I now have so much more confidence,” says Cathy. “I’m a different person – I laugh more, I smile more, and I’m conquering new challenges.”

“When I come home with my clothes covered in dirt and dust, I tell my kids what I did at work that day and they think it’s pretty awesome. One of my daughters recently said ‘Maybe I’ll be a Plumber, too.’ I thought that was pretty awesome.”

Cathy’s one piece of advice for any woman considering a career in the trades? “Yes you can!”

To download Cathy's printable profile sheet, click here. (2.7MB pdf)


What began in 2006 as a job working in welding on some of the world’s largest mining equipment and driving 200-tonne electric haul trucks, ended abruptly with the economic downturn and industry layoffs. Unemployed, searching for work in the same places, and looking at the same opportunities as everyone else left Twyla not knowing what to do. “You start feeling like you don’t even know where to look for jobs anymore.”

In the spring of 2010, Twyla attended an Industry Training Authority (ITA) Women in Trades Training (WITT) information session in Prince George and connected to the Skilled Trades Employment Program (STEP) offered by the BC Construction Association (BCCA).

Before attending the WITT information session, Twyla had never considered a career in carpentry, despite her familiarity with other trades. Twyla credits the counselling and financial support she received through WITT for having the job she has today.

Through this WITT program, trade employment specialists worked with Twyla to assess her abilities, develop a strong resume, and improve her interviewing skills, and also served as a link between Twyla and potential employers. BCCA also supported Twyla through a required construction safety training systems course and provided her with the tools she needed to be job-ready: steel-toed safety boots and a robust set of construction tools. Twyla says that coming up with the money to pay these costs on her
own would have been impossible, and would have stood in the way of finding employment.

To download Twyla's printable profile sheet, click here.(750KB pdf)