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Hilti, GBC partnership provides women with tools to succeed in the trades

Angela Gismondi
Hilti, GBC partnership provides women with tools to succeed in the trades

Women entering the trades need all the support they can get and a new partnership between George Brown College (GBC) and Hilti Canada will amplify the college’s existing Women Transitioning to the Trades and Employment (WTTE) program, while providing additional learning opportunities and benefits for participants.

“The partnership really is about creating more awareness and opportunity for women who are interested in the trades,” said Kizzy Bedeau, director of community partnerships at GBC.

“What this partnership does is it really infuses it (the existing program) with more resources.

“Hilti is really committed to letting the women get access to not just the tools but also what happens behind the scenes so they can job shadow, they can network, they can even get connected to a coach and they also get access to job opportunities that might align with their interests.”

The six-week WTTE program is geared towards women, gender non-binary and trans individuals living on low income or who might be facing significant barriers to accessing education, particularly training and employment and are interested in entering the trades sector.

The partnership includes a financial contribution of $40,000 from Hilti, which will go towards providing scholarships, supplies and tools to help with the hands-on learning and access and retention in the program. Hilti will also contribute $100,000 for tools.

“These individuals at George Brown, they work in a shop and this shop has been completely retrofitted with Hilti tools,” explained Jason Aurora, director of human resources at Hilti (Canada) Corporation.

“We’re investing in these women. When they graduate from the program they also get a Hilti tool kit. We’re also looking at these individuals a little more holistically.”

Hilti will also provide mentorship opportunities with team members, career ride along opportunities, coaching, job shadowing and presentations with the leadership or executive team.

“We want these individuals at WTTE to see that as women in the construction industry there is absolutely a place for them to contribute, not only at Hilti but maybe even at other organizations in our industry,” said Aurora.

Hilti was looking for a partner that had values and programs that aligned with its people strategy, specifically pertaining to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“We came across the WTTE program. When we first started looking at it, it felt like a match made in heaven,” Aurora recalled. “Their values, what they do for these women, for these individuals, what we wanted to do, getting closer to our community and doing work that was beyond business. This felt like such a great opportunity.”

While before COVID most of these opportunities would have been taking place in person, with everything going virtual, there is now an opportunity to connect with any Hilti worker across the country.

“It’s also a great opportunity for our team members across Canada, especially in a virtual world if you are in Vancouver or Calgary or Newfoundland you can still contribute to this program that is located in downtown Toronto, whereas before COVID this probably would have been something very specific for our teams in the Toronto area,” Aurora pointed out.

“Once we’re past COVID, we envision these individuals maybe going to our distribution centre or a Hilti store in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) or our head office in Mississauga where they can join the customer service teams and get a feel for these roles within the organization so they can really touch and feel and tangibly experience what it’s like to work in the construction industry,” said Aurora. “These are just some of the opportunities that we envision. It’s not just financial, although the financial piece is important, it’s much more than that.”

The virtual platform is something that will likely be used in the future.

“We see this being something that even in a post-COVID world, yes there will be much more of a focus giving these women and individuals in WTTE opportunities physically in the GTA, but we won’t close the door on the opportunity to do things virtually as well because we have learned so much through COVID,” said Aurora.

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.


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