People are frequently surprised when Carolynn MacLeod tells them she’s an auto body repair employee with Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal in Miller Lake.
That reaction is somewhat understandable. Women have long been underrepresented in key sectors such as science, trades and technology for several reasons, including gender stereotypes. Yet an aging demographic and skills gap are prompting these industries to look beyond traditional candidates to fill positions. That’s creating more career options for women, which will have a profound impact on Nova Scotia’s economy.
“When women succeed in trades, they’re paid well and able to do more for their families and community,” says Tina Kelly, Academic Chair, NSCC School of Trades and Technology. “That’s one reason for our businesses to diversify. The other is that diversity in the workplace leads to increased capacity and innovation, which will make Nova Scotia’s companies more competitive globally.”
A foodservice industry employee for many years, Carolynn says it was the birth of her daughter that inspired her to make a career change. She connected with Women Unlimited, a 14-week program that introduced her to a range of trades, and was intrigued by auto body repair. Encouraged by her sister, she enrolled in the Automotive Collision Repair and Refinishing program at NSCC’s Akerley campus.
“The instructors were great and the fact that we spent most of our time doing painting and repair work in the campus body shop really helped prepare me for working in the industry.”
Carolynn graduated in 2011 and, months later, was hired by the NS Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, where she did her work term. ”I’m really happy here. I could see me doing this the rest of my life.”