Delaney Krieger has only been a drywall and acoustics apprentice for a few years, but she is already working hard to encourage more young women to see themselves in the trades.
The 21-year-old Windsor, Ont. native has been working in the field since 2019. In addition to being an apprentice, she is also an ambassador for Build a Dream, which delivers programs to encourage female students to explore careers where women are underrepresented.
“Prior to Build a Dream I had never really considered a career in the skilled trades. I had never really been exposed to the skilled trades,” Krieger explained. “Now I get to speak as someone in the industry and I get to speak on all of the benefits that the construction industry has given me and what you can get out of it as a career.”
In her senior year of high school, she attended a Build a Dream career discovery expo and once she graduated, she went to the local Carpenters’ union hall. Eventually she was hired on through Local 494 and has been working for the same company since July 2019. She knew the apprenticeship pathway was a good fit for her.
“I didn’t really want to spend more time in school. I wanted to get something, a skill in a high demand field. I loved everything about the apprenticeship pathway,” Krieger said. “I loved the fact that you get to earn money while you are learning your trade. I liked that it gave you that hands-on experience and obviously the fact that I didn’t have to pay for the schooling really helped.”
She ended up switching to drywall and acoustics and going to Hamilton, Ont. for basic trades school.
“I thought I would hate drywall.
“In my mind I wanted more of a finish job, but I got some exposure to steel framing and I immediately fell in love with it,” she said. “I love how at the end of the day you could step back and see that you have a wall there. I loved being on the bigger jobsites. I loved working around all the trades.”
When she is talking to youth, her biggest piece of advice is to really sit down and think about where they want to be in five to 10 years.
“It sounds cliché, it sounds cheesy, but genuinely picture what you will be waking up to do for the rest of your life,” she explained. “That’s what I did in high school. If I had not done that I would probably be at a 9 to 5 office job and absolutely hating it and drowning in student debt.
“I needed to sit down and say, ‘I like being active, I like being hands on, I like being social, I like working in a fun environment.’ That’s what the construction industry is.”
As an ambassador with Build a Dream she educates people on what a career in the industry can be like.
“When it comes to young women, I just kind of put it all out on the line and say it’s going to be hard. You’re going to be the only one for the most part,” said Krieger. “This industry won’t change until we change it.
“I like to remind them…you don’t have to fit into this box of what a woman in construction should be. You can come and be whoever you want.”
That’s not to say that being a woman in a male dominated industry hasn’t been challenging, she added.
“I remember my first couple of months in the trade, just looking around and not seeing anyone that looked like me. That was a really daunting experience,” she said, adding little things like not knowing what to do with her long hair or where to get work wear that fit were an issue at first. “I had nobody to go to. I had nobody to look up to who could answer those small questions for me.”
Over the years she has worked on a couple of memorable projects including a six-storey condo building and retrofitting an old factory into a school.
“I got to see the old structure and how we painted it and fixed it up and made it look new again and how we were able to make this ugly old factory into this beautiful new school,” Krieger said. “On most jobsites we frame it and we board it as well so I am able to see it bare bones and then when it’s all done up which is a really cool experience.”
Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.