Franklin Countys First News

‘Totally Trades’ continues tradition of supporting young women

Sadie Knight (right) teaches a female student at Mt. Blue how to change and balance a tire at a Totally Trades conference several years ago.

FARMINGTON - The annual Totally Trades Conference, coordinated by New Ventures Maine, will be offered virtually all next week with online workshops and experiences aimed at broadening young women's career horizons. The daily sessions are designed to encourage girls to consider careers in fields traditionally underrepresented by women.

"The wage gap between genders is partially because women don't often pursue those high paying careers such as the trades," New Venture's Janet Smith said.

Smith is the Regional Manager of the Farmington location of New Ventures, and has helped organized the event in the past that has taken place on Mt. Blue Campus.

"We didn't want to just say 'oh, we can't do it this year,'" Smith said. "One of the good things about being virtual this year is that girls can sign up for as many classes as they'd like."

Another benefit, according to Smith, is that typically Totally Trades can only be offered to a limited number of schools in the state, but this year's model allows the program to extend throughout the entire state as well as to girls who are home schooled.

Five virtual workshop sessions will be offered to girls currently enrolled in Career and Technical Education programs, those considering pursuing non-traditional employment in the five career sectors represented or enrolling in future CTE programs. The career sectors being highlighted are Bridge and Highway Building Trades, Communications and Technology Trades, Automotive Trades, Public Safety Careers, and Building Trades. Sessions will include a professional from each field, as well as virtual experiences such as 'day in the life' videos from the careers. Another benefit to the virtual model is that multiple professionals are being brought in to represent each career. For example, building construction will include a contractor as well as an engineer.

"A girl doesn't have to be interested in building construction to go to that session, they can just be interested in career exploration and might find they're interested in something they had never thought about before," Smith said.

The workshops are free, and open to girls in grades eight through 12 who are exploring or considering employment in the featured career sectors. Funding for the virtual Totally Trades Career Week is provided by the Maine Department of Education/CTE and the Maine Department of Transportation. Additional support and in-kind contributions are provided by businesses and community partners.

“We want to provide girls in grades 8-12 with information and support in career sectors of interest to them. Maine’s career and technical education schools and Community College system are doing amazing work introducing students to programs such as building and metal trades, automotive technology, and heavy equipment operations as well as other trade and technical careers. These careers, for the most part, are considered high wage and high opportunity in Maine and the United States,” New Venture's conference planner Suzanne Senechal-Jandreau said.

Individuals seeking more information on the virtual Totally Trades Career Week sessions, or interested in registering should contact Suzanne Senechal-Jandreau at 207-768-9635 or senechal@maine.edu or check out the website at www.totallytradesmaine.org.

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