Building a Stronger Future with the Skilled Trades

Amari Bailey knew she had to make a change. She felt stuck in a customer service job that brought her little satisfaction. “The job was stressful and emotionally draining,” said Amari. “It was never fun for me, it was always just a paycheque.” Despite everything she put into her work, Amari felt completely, utterly replaceable. “I needed to get out. I was not being valued or challenged and opportunities to move up to a better position did not exist. I was not happy with the way things were going.”

Amari knew that she had to find something better. She had experience with welding, and had learned about growing opportunities for women in the skilled trades. “I needed to find a free program because I did not have enough money for tuition.” A Google search led her to YWCA Toronto’s website, where she enrolled in the Painter/Decorator Pre-Apprentice training program. “I was so happy to find YWCA Toronto at this important time in my life. The staff were so supportive, and provided all the information and training I needed to enter my new career.” In less than six months, she was on a worksite.

“My supervisor trusts that I will do a good job, which is a freedom that I never had before.”

For Amari, the difference between working in retail and working in the skilled trades was significant. Her first job as a painter/decorator was at Exhibition Place. “I went from working indoors at a mall to being on a worksite. Before I felt trapped under the fluorescent lights. Now, I get to move around, be outside, and enjoy the sunshine or a great view.” Amari loves that she is challenged and respected – something she had felt was missing at her previous job.

“In the skilled trades, you get to be on a team, but you also have your speciality and you get to work independently. At the beginning of the workday, your supervisor lays out what needs to get done and you do the work. No one is checking up on you or questioning your ability. It instills real confidence in your abilities. My supervisor trusts that I will do a good job, which is a freedom that I never had before.”

When asked in what ways she finds her new career in the skilled trades rewarding, Amari smiles. “Your team really comes together to build something from the ground up. Everyone has their different specialities – the carpenters, the electricians, the plumbers, and the painters – but the job would not get done without everyone working together.” Amari says that even though the work can be physically challenging, at the end of the day, you feel a sense of accomplishment. “You can see what your team has built together.”

“If you are looking to improve your career opportunities, do not hesitate to look into this program and contact YWCA Toronto,” said Amari. “The economic opportunity is huge.”

In reflecting on her experience completing YWCA Toronto’s Skilled Trades program, Amari says she was impressed with the wide range of women who were taking the program. “We were women from all walks of life – different backgrounds and nationalities, from all across the city. In my group, there was a 21 year-old young woman and a 55 year-old grandmother.” Amari says she formed strong bonds with some of her fellow colleagues. “There is a sense of camaraderie and friendship. We still keep in touch with each other, check in on how things are going, and are supportive whenever possible.”

Amari is eager to spread the word about YWCA Toronto’s Skilled Trades program. “If you are looking to improve your career opportunities, do not hesitate to look into this program and contact YWCA Toronto,” said Amari. “The economic opportunity is huge. You can work your way up quickly and earn a great salary. I have tried to get my sister to go through it and I tell my friends and women I meet – if you’re looking to make a change in your career and pursue something rewarding, check out YWCA Toronto’s Skilled Trades training program. I am still impressed by what I was able to accomplish in such a short time.”

YWCA Toronto is currently hosting information and recruitment sessions from January to March 2017 for women interested in exploring careers in the skilled trades such as Refrigeration Air Conditioner System Mechanic and Commercial/Residential Painter-Decorator. Learn more and register for an Information Session today: http://bit.ly/2iVKALN.